People joke about the weather in Tallahassee being unpredictable. However, when summer comes around, we can almost predict severe weather warnings will be followed by storm damage with trees down in some part of Tallahassee. There are measures we can take to minimize storm damage to our trees as well as best practices after damage occurs. No plan is foolproof, but we wanted to share many of the things we have found helpful when dealing with our predictably unpredictable weather in Tallahassee.
Preparing Trees for Summer Storms in Tallahassee
Start Preparing Early by Watering Younger Trees Deeply
When you plant a young tree, your job of caring for the sapling is just beginning. Depending on the time of year and size of the new tree, staking, watering and fertilizing will vary. The goal behind watering younger trees is to have their roots grow deeper into the soil, avoiding surface roots that lend less strength when strong winds blow in with summer storms. Even if you get a light summer shower on watering day, you will still want to keep to your schedule of deep watering, encouraging the roots to develop further down into the soil.
Another factor in growing healthy young trees is remembering our Tallahassee summers can become brutally hot with the full sun burning off moisture quickly. Mulching is an important part of your plan to help your young tree retain the moisture from your deep watering sessions. But improper mulching can do more damage than leaving the soil bare to bake under the summer sun. For information on mulching young trees the right way, read our recent blog on best practices on our website.
Pruning for Air Flow
If you have two lawn chairs the same size, made of the same material and facing the same direction – but one has a solid back and the other has room between the straps – when a strong gust of wind comes along, which chair will blow over first? The solid backed chair will blow over first, like trees that have not been properly thinned and pruned to allow air movement through their branches.
Pruning for air flow is standard maintenance for many trees and may include removing a variety of different sized limbs. The goal is to open the interior of the tree structure, allowing maximum air flow and discouraging an environment attractive to pests. A tree with a dense limb structure may have branches rubbing together or rotting, making the tree at risk to diseases and destructive bugs.
Removing Dead Tree Branches
When summer storms kick up wind gusts, objects like dead limbs can become deadly projectiles. It may seem easy to get the job done by pulling out limbs that are low enough to grab by hand. You might be surprised how many dead branches can hide in a larger tree, ready to fall and cause storm damage. Removing dead limbs can be hazardous when homeowners try to do it themselves with equipment not meant for the task.
Professionals will use lifts – or occasionally climb with safety harnesses in place – to access the interior of the tree. They will remove dead limbs and check for any that are in poor health or position, crowding others and rubbing away bark. A word of caution – allowing someone to climb your healthy tree with spikes to remove dead limbs is inadvisable. Inserting multiple holes in the bark of a tree is like an open invitation to pests and rot! Spikes may be used by trained professionals with additional safety precautions only when a tree has been marked for removal.
Moving or Removing Problem Trees
It is not unusual to decide a tree is too close to your home once storm damage in Tallahassee becomes a regular subject of summer conversations. What once looked pretty and perfect now looks menacing as you see the branches whipping closer to windows and roof line. If you have a strong attachment to the tree, there may be an alternative to removal. A tree spade can be used to transplant smaller trees that are rare ornamentals, commemorative plantings or still have decades of growth ahead, but have outgrown their current location.
A tree spade is a unique piece of equipment that digs a hole at the destination site commiserate with the size of the tree to be moved. The operator then repositions the equipment with the spade blades surrounding the tree to be removed. Once set into proper position, the spade blades are slowly pushed into the ground by hydraulics, surrounding the tree and root ball. Next, the operator reverses the action, lifting the entirety of dirt and tree in one motion. The intact tree, root ball and surrounding soil is then moved to the previously spaded area and positioned into the hole. Using this method causes minimal damage to the tree and saves significant time in digging.
If the tree is at the end of its natural life cycle, diseased or too large for the available tree spade – then removal is the best course of action. Depending on homeowner preference, the stump of the tree can be left at a certain height, cut off at ground level or ground down. Regarding stump grinding, some tree stumps are left for natural habitats or craft ideas, but not if located too close to the house. As stumps decay, they attract boring insects and other bugs which may be okay in the far corner of your lot but should be avoided close to the house.
Preparing Yourself for Storm Damage in Tallahassee
In a city like Tallahassee, it is inevitable that strong summer storms or remnants of a hurricane will bring down trees. Where those trees fall and how it personally impacts you can range from the inconvenience of lost power to roof intrusion and subsequent water damage.
None of us wants a repeat of Hurricane Michael, but if a strong storm comes ashore at Carrabelle or St. Marks, it will heavily impact Tallahassee and the surrounding areas. We have a list from our September blog with pointers on how to get tree help quicker, know what to expect, and protect you from the questionable characters that pop up when disaster strikes.
9 TIPS ON WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER SEVERE WEATHER
- Call your preferred tree company first, then your insurance company, then a roofer or contractor of choice. Have your insurance information ready at the time of the call.
- Do not pay any vendor up front for any work and always ask for a copy of their insurance.
- We know it is a difficult time, but please be patient! Thousands of calls will be coming in and they will be prioritized based on location, severity and order of the call.
- We will only be handling trees on houses and structures until those are cleared up.
- If you have trees in your yard, they will have to wait until trees on houses are finished. You can still call us to get in the queue for yard clean up.
- Please understand, your yard may get damaged. With it being very wet, combined with a large volume of work to do, your yard and driveway may get damaged more than if it was a regular tree job. We will make every effort to minimize this damage, but in emergency situations, we can’t spend extra time trying to protect the yard.
- Once the tree is removed from your house, it may be weeks before we get back to do a final cleanup of your yard. Again, be patient, as there is a large volume of damage across town.
- Your debris will be stacked by the road possibly for weeks. We will either give you a price to haul it later, or the city or FEMA will haul it.
- We will not be tarping or repairing roofs. Have a roofer or contractor on your short list of vendors.
You can find additional pointers by visiting our blog on Recovering for Summer Storm Damage in Tallahassee.
Storm damage is a predictable part of our summer weather in the Big Bend. Tree maintenance, trimming and removal are part of what we do to keep Tallahassee trees healthy. Moving your favorite tree is now a possibility with Miller’s Tree Service, as we recently invested in a tree spade – available for both residential and commercial clients.
We are invested in keeping Tallahassee proactive against storm damage, so please call 850.894.TREE (8733) for a free arborist consultation before the next big storm!