17October 31, 2012

Regardless of whether you call the storm Hurricane Sandy or Tropical Storm Sandy, the winds from the storm may have caused damage to your plants. There will be the obvious things that happen in your yard. A tree may come down or a major branch may have broken off on a tree. Yet there will be a lot of subtle damage that you may not be aware of happening. During Tropical Storm Irene, some plants were partially uprooted. You may remember the plants that were leaning and yet they still had the majority of their roots still in the ground. There were trees and shrubs with minor to major cracks in a limb. All of these things need your attention as soon as you have a chance to attend to the problem. If cracks in branches are not treated, it will allow water and insects to enter into the crack. This can lead to rotting of the branch and ultimately the death of the branch. Let me give you a brief idea of the things you should be doing to repair damaged plants.

If you have a tree limb that is mostly broken away from the tree, you may be able to cut the branch off, if it is something you can do safely. Major branches may require you using a tree service that can do the job. If it is something you can do, you first need to look at how large the branch is that you need to remove. If you try to cut a large branch off where it attaches to the tree, the weight of the branch may cause bark to rip off the tree if you try to make one cut close to the trunk. It is better to make several smaller cuts starting further out on the limb. By doing this, you will wind up with a smaller section of branch that can be cut off without ripping the bark off the main part of the tree.

If a branch has just a minor cracked, you may be able to seal the crack with grafting wax. The wax is spread over the crack and the wax seals out moisture and insects. If the crack is larger, you may have to brace the branch with wire. The wire should not be directly wrapped around the branch. The wire should pass through sections of old garden hose. The hose prevents the wire from digging into the tree. If you are not sure how to do this, stop by the store and we can further explain this to you.

Some plants may become partially uprooted by the wind. Once the storm passes, you can use your foot to press smaller plants back into the ground. You want to press on the soil on the side opposite the direction the plant is leaning. This should cause the plant to return to an upright position.
If you have a larger shrub or a small tree that is leaning, you may have to loosen the soil around the base of the plant. This will allow you to push the plant into an upright position. On smaller trees, you should use a tree staking kit to keep the plant in an upright position. It will probably take several months of the tree being staked to allow the roots to re-form in the soil. After about 6 months, you can take the staking kit off the tree and the tree should be able to support itself again.

Once the storm is over, take some time to check your yard for damage to your plants. By quickly treating any problems, you have a better chance at having the plant survive the damage.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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