Fix damaged trees with care

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 8, 2011

By Darrell Blackwelder
For the Salisbury Post
At the time of this writing, officials and power companies are still assessing damage from the storm that passed through early Tuesday morning.
Shade trees with weak crotch angles, decayed limbs and trunks or poorly pruned tree were easy prey.
As expected, many Bradford pear trees throughout the area were heavily damaged with the extreme force of 50-plus mph wind gusts. Unfortunately, other trees that normally can withstand extreme wind were also damaged.
Some trees and shrubs were actually blown over with exposed roots. In some instances, the trees can be returned upright with little or no damage, while others with excessive damage or exposed roots may not recover. It may be early summer before homeowners are able to assess this damage.
It’s best to go ahead and correct problem trees and those damaged by the Tuesday morning storm. Cut back limbs to the nearest fork or trunk when removing broken limbs more than 2 or 3 inches in diameter. However, it’s best to avoid leaving stubs out of the trunk. Stubs decay easily allowing fungi easy penetration into the vascular system of the tree.
On the other hand, cutting damaged limbs too close to the trunk can hurt the bark and cause problems with the wound healing.
Pruning paints and wound dressings generally are of no benefit on open tree wounds. In fact, research has proven that some wound dressings often cause more problems with fungi growing underneath the dressing materials.
Use extreme caution when working on trees. Do-it-yourself tree work is hazardous. Using a professional may be in the best interest of those unskilled in pruning and particularly, felling large trees.
Many contact the Extension Office and ask for qualified arborists. Go to for a list of qualified, licensed arborists in this area. These individuals are licensed by the International Society of Arborists which means not only do they have to take courses and pass a standardized test but they must also keep abreast with continuing education courses.
Below is more information on trees and tree damage:
National Arbor Day Foundation Website
Storm Damage Assessment in Urban Areas — USDA Forest Service
Darrell Blackwelder is the County Extension Director with horticulture responsibilities with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Learn more about Cooperative Extension events and activities on Facebook or website at www. or by phone at 704-216-8970.