GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Lifestyle

January 4, 2013

Tips for protecting trees and shrubs from storms

Even the sturdiest-looking trees can be brought down by high winds, heavy snow and ice, but there are ways you can limit the damage.

Here are some storm-proofing suggestions that will pay off over time, starting with determining which trees in your landscape are the most vulnerable.

“I’m a great believer in storm-proofing or preparing for anything that will have the most impact on your lifestyle,” said Mark Chisholm, a third-generation arborist from Howell, N.J., and spokesman for Stihl Inc., a manufacturer of outdoor power tools.

“Try to prep your house and yard if you have the time,” he said.

“Clear rain gutters so water will flow. Remove loose lawn furniture from decks. Stabilize trees around the house by cabling or tying them down, especially those that you know have structural flaws.”

Additional tips:

Get to know an arborist or tree-care professional — now. “When a storm hits, you’ll likely be prioritized as an existing customer,” said Chisholm, who works with the power industry clearing debris left behind by severe weather, including Hurricane Sandy in October.

Get a pre-storm assessment to identify trouble spots. Decaying and leaning trees should be pruned, staked or removed, especially those threatening dwellings or utility lines.

Think safety during cleanup. “The stuff on the ground won’t hurt you unless downed power lines are involved,” Chisholm said. “It’s what’s overhead that’s dangerous. Stress fractures or dead and broken limbs can come crashing down and do serious harm.”

Be especially careful when working with chainsaws. “If a tree is on the ground, try to cut it up without harming yourself in the process,” said Kim Gabel with University of Florida Extension in Key West. “If a badly damaged tree is still standing, it’s not recommended that a layman climb a ladder to take care of it. Get professional help.”

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