NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

October 31, 2012

Cleaning up Sandy's damage

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.

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