Disaster Resources - University of Illinois Extension

Repair and Replacement of Storm Damaged Trees

Summer windstorms and winter ice can cause severe damage to trees. If you have storm-damaged trees, the first task at hand is the removal of branches and broken limbs to restore power and eliminate safety hazards. After that task is completed, you may be one of the many landowners with damaged trees facing the decision of repair or replacement.

If you have a tree that is severely damaged, you may need the advice of a professional to determine whether the tree is worth saving through pruning and repair. A professional arborist can help you evaluate the tree based on its age, species, growing location, and the value it adds to your property.

Arborists are specialists in the care of individual trees with the training and proper equipment to do the job correctly and safely. Trees on your property are an investment; so to protect your investment, select an arborist carefully. Many arborists are certified by the International Society of Arboriculture and therefore can be located by searching for a local arborist on their web site located at http://www.isa-arbor.com/. The yellow pages in your telephone directory are another source of local arborists with certification.

Before you hire someone, always get estimates from at least three arborists. Make sure that they have liability insurance, Worker’s Compensation coverage, and references, in addition to professional certification. It’s a good idea to get a written detailed description of the work that will be done for the price quoted in their estimate.

Keep in mind that storm events sometimes opens “the door of opportunity” for door to door solicitors offering bargains for tree services. Also a good arborist will only perform accepted best management practices for tree care. Practices such as tree topping, rather than selected branch removal, and the use of tree climbing spikes on trees that are not being removed are not recommended arboriculture practices.

If you find that tree removal is your best option, based on the condition of your tree, replace the tree with a species that is less susceptible to ice or wind damage. You should also select a species that is appropriate for your space and intended use of the tree. Select a tree that is hardy for your climate, and is adapted to your soil type. You can head off future problems by selecting tree species that are native to your region of Illinois.

Remember too, that unless a tree’s mature height is less than 15 feet, it should not be planted under or near overhead utility lines, so plan and plant accordingly. Old clay tile sewer lines may also become clogged with roots, if you plant a tree too close to the sewer line’s location. A simple map of your property, showing existing utilities, buildings, trees and activity areas, will help you determine the amount of space you have available.

This all may seem like a lot to consider, but remember that you are making a long-term investment. The University of Illinois Extension Unit office in your county can provide you with technical bulletins on tree selection. The Illinois Nurseryman's Association, 1717 S. 5th, Springfield, IL 62703 maintains a list of member firms that sell nursery stock in Illinois, if you need help locating a source for a new tree.

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