, Newburyport, MA

October 31, 2012

Cleaning up Sandy's damage

Tim's Tips Tim Lamprey
Newburyport Daily News

---- — Obvious damage can happen to your yard during such a superstorm like Hurricane Sandy — a tree can come down or a large branch can break off.

Yet, there will also be a lot of subtle damage that you may not be aware occurred. During Tropical Storm Irene, some plants were partially uprooted. You may remember the plants that were leaning, and yet, they still had the majority of their roots in the ground. There were trees and shrubs that had both minor and major cracks to the limbs.

All of these things need your attention as soon as you have a chance. If cracks in branches are not treated, water and insects will enter in through those openings. This can lead to rotting of the branch and, ultimately, its death.

Let me give you a brief overview of the things you should do to repair damaged plants.

If there is a limb that is mostly broken away from the tree, you may be able to cut the branch off, if it’s safe. Large branches may require that you use a tree service. But if it is something you can do, you first need to look at the size of the branch. If you try to cut a large branch off where it attaches to the tree, its weight may cause bark to rip off if the cut is too close to the trunk.

It is better to make several smaller cuts starting further out on the limb. By doing this, you will wind up with a smaller section of branch that can be cut off without ripping the bark off the main part of the tree.

If a branch has just a minor crack, you may be able to seal the crack with grafting wax. The wax is spread over the crack and it keeps out moisture and insects. If the crack is larger, you may have to brace the branch with wire. The wire should not be directly wrapped around the branch — you should pass it through sections of an old garden hose. The hose prevents the wire from digging into the tree. If you are not sure how to do this, stop by the store and we can further explain this to you.

Some plants may become partially uprooted by the wind. Once the storm passes, you can use your foot to press smaller plants back into the ground. You want to press on the soil on the side opposite the direction the plant is leaning. This should cause the plant to return to an upright position.

If you have a larger shrub or a small tree that is leaning, you may have to loosen the soil around the base of the plant. This will allow you to push the plant into an upright position. On smaller trees, you should use a tree staking kit to keep the plant in an upright position. It will probably take several months of the tree being staked to allow the roots to re-form in the soil. After about 6 months, you can take the staking kit off and the tree should be able to support itself again.

Once the storm is over, take some time to check your yard for damage to your plants. By quickly treating any problems, you have a better chance at having the plant survive the damage.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.


Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.