Squak Talk Blog

Tips for Tree Repair after the Ice Storm

This past Saturday, Alan Haywood, city of Issaquah’s horticulturalist, spoke at a a free seminar here at Squak Mt.  His class focused on repairing trees damaged in the recent ice and snow storm.  For those with damaged trees perhaps the following points will help.

The first thing Alan said was do not go near trees with heavy burdens of ice or snow on them.  They are not safe!  True, there is no ice or snow now but remember this for future storms.  In addition he emphasized that broken tree tops and branches that are still hanging in trees pose a serious danger, and you must assess the danger they pose today.  Unless they are definitely wedged in the tree so they cannot fall, they should be removed for safety.  Alan spent much of his talk on the danger of  material falling out of trees, so please be warned.

You may have a tree, often a white birch, that has been bent by the weight of ice and snow, often into a perfect bow.  Be extremely careful if you want to cut this tree, it has large amounts of energy stored in the bow and can cause injury or damage when it is released.  A twisted tree presents the same danger.

When trying to decide if a tree should be completely removed because of extensive damage review the following:


  1. What was the overall condition of the tree prior to the storm?  If it looked sickly and past its prime, now might be the time to remove it.


  1. Has the tree outgrown its current location?  If so, why try to repair it? Considering removing it and planting a more appropriate tree.


  1. After damaged branches are removed will the tree have sufficient branches to produce enough leaves to sustain life?  If not, then cut your losses by removing the tree.


  1. Are the main scaffold branches basically in good condition?  If yes, then you probably have a tree worth working on.


  1. What species is the tree?  Some trees like Douglas firs and cedars live a long time, so work invested in these trees will give will have a long pay back period.  Other trees like alders, big leaf maples, and cottonwoods have a short life span and may not be worth repairing.

If you are pruning broken branches, cut back to the main branch, making sure you leave a smooth, flat cut.  Also, if a branch has completely broken off, make a fresh pruning cut to produce a smooth flat surface.  Jagged surfaces leave more surface areas for disease and insect to invade the tree.

For branches that are cracked but mostly still attached to your tree you may want to stabilize the branch by wrapping the cracked area with duct tape or electrical tape.  If the tape does not stabilize the branch, a splint or tying the branch to an adjoining branch may be necessary.

There is no need to apply a paint or pruning compound to the cut areas.   They do not provide any benefit and may provide a cover for insects to hide in.

If  you have questions concerning your tree please gives us a call Squak Mt. Nursery.

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