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Cleaning up

The heavy ice storms we recently had took a toll on our trees. There were some people who had hardly any damage and others who had significant damage. The ash trees and silver maples in my yard took a big hit. We were lucky that no big branches damaged our house. We do, however, have a big mess to clean up.

There are several questions to ask before digging into your clean up. The first is to make sure that all of the larger tree branches have fallen so that no one who is working under the trees is exposed to a possible accident waiting to happen.

The second question is if a tree is heavily damaged do you decide to take the tree down? If most of the tree has been damaged or the trunk of the tree damaged, this might be a better choice to make. A damaged tree may cause further problems down the road when there is a storm with high wind. It could damage the tree further and cause more problems down the road. You will have to ask yourself if it is something that you can handle on your own or if you need to call in a specialist to help you out. It is sometimes much easier to let professionals handle the situation because they have better equipment and have a lot more experience dealing with these types of situations.

The third question is if your tree has had significant damage from heavy branch loss but otherwise looks like it will still be a safe tree. In this case, making sure to clean up as much of the broken branches as possible is the best bet. This can be done by making sure that any branches that are partially broken off are removed. The right way to cut branches off is at the collar of the branch and not to leave 4-5 inches of the branch on the tree. This encourages growth from that point and could eventually lead to a weak branch coming from that point.

Once you have decided all of these factors, then you are done. It is not necessary to use paint or tree wound paint or any other type of material to cover the wound of the tree. Trees are pretty good at repairing themselves by their own devices. The further expense of using these products are just that, just another expense. In fact, newer research on these products show that there is a greater chance of rot behind the pain because it traps moisture under the wood.

If you have evergreen trees or shrubs that were covered in ice and were bent over, it is best to leave them alone. They rarely lose a branch from ice but from time to time they do. They will eventually straighten up with time. It takes patience to allow this to happen. If you start to try to straighten an evergreen up, it could break. This is also the same for any other shrub too. If we give them time, they will eventually straighten up.

As your shrubs and other smaller plants start to green up and you can start to see what branches have been damaged or are dead from either this past storm or this winter, then you can selectively prune out those particular branches or stems out of the plant. With the warmer weather on the way, we will soon find out which plants made it through the winter without problems and which ones will need a little attention.

For more information on gardening, you can reach me at s.dejaeghere@me.com. If you wish to become a Master Gardner, please check out the U of M Master Gardener webpage at https://extension.umn.edu/volunteer#master-gardener

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