Thursday, February 3, 2011

Can My Tree Be Fixed?

Contributing Writer - Mike Galvin, Deputy Director

In our prior post, we discussed how to inspect trees for damage following a storm. Today we will discuss the question "what types of damage can be fixed and what types cannot?"

Uprooting is very difficult to fix for any but the youngest trees. As the size and age of the uprooted tree increases, so do two other factors: the cost of the repair and the likelihood that the repair will not be successful.

Stems are assessed on the type of defect, the size of the defect, and what type of conditions you expect the tree to withstand. Hollow trees are common, and as long as the trunk is no more than two thirds hollow, that is not a concern under normal conditions.

Limbs are assessed as stems are. In addition, the closer a side branch is in width to the branch it is growing out from, the greater the likelihood that the limb will break off (these are called co-dominant limbs; stems can also be co-dominant if a tree is multi-stemmed). Limbs that have lost 50% or more in a storm are candidates for removal.
The hazard zone can be described in many ways depending on where on the tree the defect is, but the simplest way to describe it is to walk as far away from the tree as the tree is tall, and to “draw” a circle around the tree this way and then look at what falls within the circle. Is it your house? A street? These items are considered “targets”.  A target is generally a person or piece of property that would get damaged or hurt if the tree or part of the tree fell.

All treatments can be boiled down to three options:
  1. Remove the risk by removing potential targets (move any potential targets such as people and property out of the hazard zone).
  2. Mitigate the risk by repairing the damage by pruning, cabling, etc.
  3. Remove the risk by removing the tree.
In urban settings, the first option is often off the table due to site constraints. This means you can either prune or remove the tree, depending on the extent of the damage. Again, if you need these services, we recommend you contact a professional Certified Arborist for help. If you have to remove your tree Casey Trees has a number of programs that may help you with a replacement tree.

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