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Agriculture & Natural Resources Updates for Fannin & Gilmer Counties

Cleaning up from storms like this can be dangerous if not done correctly, so make sure you know how to use chain saws safely or contact a certified arborist for assistance.

We are still recovering from Tropical Storm Zeta, and I’ve already had several calls from concerned homeowners wondering what they should do with their damaged trees. Storm-damaged trees can be dangerous to clean up, as damaged trees are subject to all the perils associated with tree felling. Working conditions may be difficult, as downed trees may be entangled in other trees, or tossed on buildings, vehicles, or wires. Energy stored in compressed limbs and trunks can be release suddenly, explosively, and fatally. Each situation is unique and requires careful consideration.

If damage is extensive, you may want to consider hiring an arborist to look at situations that may not be easy to resolve. Certified arborists have training to equip them to answer complex tree questions. When selecting a tree service, consider using one with an International Society of Arboriculture arborist. I can supply a list or you can do to this website to locate one: www.treesaregood.org/findanarborist.

There are not many certified arborists in this area. If you cannot locate a certified arborist, be a careful shopper and don’t be afraid to keep looking until you find someone you think can get the job done both correctly and safely. Some tree questions are easier to answer than others; however, it is likely you will still need to hire a tree service. Below are some common questions and answers that can help you decide who and when to call.

“I have a broken tree in my yard! Should I remove it?”

Questions like this sometimes need a definitive answer from a trained arborist or tree service employee. Here are a few guidelines to help you determine when to call for help.

We often see twin trees split. Trees with two equal or almost equal sized branches are usually weak. If half of the tree splits off, the other half is often more at risk to fall. The loss of so many tree branches means that the wind will be pushing on the remaining part of the tree in a whole new way. The tree was accustomed to the wind stress it received before the tree broke. Now the wind pushing on it in a different way can make the tree more susceptible to fall.

“Should I be concerned about trees that have lost many limbs or large limbs?”

If we lose more than 50% of the branches on a hardwood tree or 30% of the branches in a pine, then we probably need to remove the tree to reduce the risk of the rest of the tree falling. If we lose more than 70% of the limbs on one side of the tree, this would also indicate a need to remove the tree.

Let me emphasize – these are general rules. These do not mean that the trees will or will not fall. These rules may help you to determine when to seek more help with your trees. A trained arborist can give you their best estimate of what to do about a tree. They are probably very busy now. Call for an appointment but be patient.

“I have a leaning tree. Is there any root injury?”

If the tree is leaning, then in my opinion, there has been some degree of injury.

If the tree was recently planted and is only leaning a little with minimal root injury, then you can perhaps push it back up and prop it until it recovers (one growing season). Carefully brace the tree without damaging the bark. Secure the tree so it will not fall. If you do brace the tree, brace it loosely so the tree can sway slightly in the breeze. This allows the tree to begin developing strength to resist future winds.

The tree still may never recover and you may be better off replacing it. This is especially true of trees that will be large. Remove any pines that are leaning. If it is a hardwood and roots are broken, remove it. To determine if roots are broken you may need professional help.

If you lost trees as a result of recent storms, fall is an excellent time to add new trees to your landscape. Here are just a few of the quality landscape trees that UGA Extension Service horticulturists recommend for planting:

Sourwood is seldom planted in yards but is an excellent tree with brilliant, deep red fall leaves.

Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) is well known for its brilliant yellow, orange and scarlet fall colors.

Chinese pistache provides bright orange and red fall colors.

Ginkgo is sometimes called maidenhair tree. No tree can match the luminous yellow color of its fan-shaped leaves.

Japanese maple is one of the most spectacular small trees you can grow in Georgia. It grows slowly but provides good fall color.

Red maple produces bright red to yellow colors. Maples offer the greatest potential for fall colors in Georgia yards.

Scarlet oak is one of the last trees in Georgia to develop its brilliant red fall color.

To learn more about planting colorful shade trees, see the UGA publication, “Fast Growing Shade Trees” or contact the Extension office.

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