Tips to prepare trees for potentially damaging weather

WASHINGTON – As surely as summer gives way to fall, wintry weather will threaten in the weeks and months ahead. This is the time to prepare trees for bad weather.

“The biggest danger is something that occurred two seasons ago and it makes me nervous every year at this time,” frets WTOP Garden Editor Mike McGrath.

It was then that a snowfall led to tree damage in the region, he says.

“It was that storm right before Halloween that dumped snow on a lot of the East Coast while the trees had a lot of their leaves on them,” McGrath says.

Trees full of leaves provide extra surface area to catch damaging snow and ice.

“That kind of unseasonable calamity took out more trees than the 50 regular winters before it,” McGrath says.

If you have trees in the yard, this is the time to look them over. McGrath says problem trees demand the attention of a certified arborist.

“As the foliage is falling, sometimes you get a clearer view of the crown,” advises Mike Galvin, of Annapolis-based SavATree, an ISA certified arborist.

“You’d be looking for things like broken limbs, cracks, cavities – if you see any mushrooms growing on the trunk or branches,” Galvin says.

Dead or diseased limbs or branches can pose risks to the tree and to property as well.

Problem trees overhanging a house can damage the roof and dead branches over power lines can knock out electricity.

People’s safety can also be jeopardized by deadwood in trees, McGrath adds.

“Nobody wants to get knocked on the noggin when they’re out shoveling in a wind storm,” says McGrath.

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