Now is the time to examine the trees surrounding your home. Look at the whole tree from the crown to the root flare.
• Is the bark sloughing off from the trunk?
• Are any trees leaning towards your house?
• Look up in the tree canopy, use your binoculars: Do you notice any broken branches that have turned brown? If the tree has started to put out new leaves closely examine if the branch tips are brown and the bark is separating from the wood?
• Do any trees have tight V crotches on the main trunk or rubbing branches?
• Did the tree get uprooted?
If you answered yes to any of these, then it may be prudent to prune, stake or remove your tree depending on the tree’s condition and possible targets the tree can hit.
For any tree branches above your head or that you have to stand on a ladder with a chain saw to prune that is a job for a professional tree trimmer. Look for someone who is ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) certified and licensed appropriate in Monroe County or your city. Check the local yellow pages or the ISA website www.isa-arbor.com for a listing of certified arborists in your area. Get three bids, so you have a better understanding of the job’s cost, the amount of tree work to be done and how the debris will be removed from your property.
Remember that some communities in the Keys, such as the City of Key West, have tree ordinances that mandate prior permission for tree removals, even those located on private property. Tree trimming ordinances are designed to protect our trees from improper pruning practices and indiscriminate tree removals. But if the tree is deemed to be hazardous it can be removed after approval from your local City Tree Commission or Monroe County Biologist.
Or if you have recently replanted your landscape the question to ask: Can my landscape stand up to this year’s storms?
For the newly replanted landscape things to keep in mind are:
• Dig a proper planting hole that is 2 to3 times as wide as the original pot and plant no deeper than the top root flare
• Use the native soil taken from the hole and mix no more than 40% with a moist peat moss, or professional potting mix
• Make sure the root ball is not kinked or girdled, if so prune out the problem or return to the garden center for a replacement
• Stake the tree with a tripod mesh straps or dowels. The key is to allow the tree to bend in the wind to develop taper, not be rigid and inflexible.
University of Florida has a website: Trees and Hurricanes – http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/treesandhurricanes/ that can help guide through:
– What to do following a hurricane
-Establishing a wind-resistant urban forest
-Managing a wind-resistant urban forest
And an online booklet: “Assessing Damage and Restoring Trees After a Hurricane (English and Spanish).
If you want a hard copy stop by the Key West Extension office -1100 Simonton Street, Suite 2-260,or Key Largo Extension Office – 102050 Overseas Highway, Suite 244
Kim Gabel, UF/IFAS