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Damage to trees like that from last year’s storm can be avoided with proper care PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 02 January 2018 13:25


• Leader & Times

January 2017 began with Winter Storm Jupiter wreaking havoc on the area by dumping snow and covering everything with thick ice, especially trees and other shrubbery in the city, a great deal of which suffered a lot of damage. 

Colder weather is upon the area and with that, it is important for trees to be trimmed to help prevent some of that damage from happening again. 

“It helps beautify the city, it helps avoid damage to power lines and houses and fences, which could all cost a lot of money to fix after a big storm like what we saw in January,” Roger Wharran, owner of Wharran Landscaping, said. “A lot of it is to help beautify the city and beautify the property. If they take care of them properly and have a professional do the work, that’s the right way to do that.”

“As an arborist, we look for bad angles on trees and those bad angles, if they’re too narrow, that can cause someone to not see the break or decay and if it’s too wide, it can get too much weight on that branch from ice and snow and then break,” Vicky Brunkhardt, owner of DV Enterprises, LLC added. “That’s one of the biggest things we look at as far as making sure a tree is healthy. Another thing we look for are cracks or breaks in the bark from wind damage and the only way to really be sure is to go and get close-up look, meaning we have to get in the tree to have a look. Another reason to get trees trimmed besides their health is getting rid of older breaks that aren’t entirely visible because if a storm does come, that could cause some major damage and then like I said we get rid of the bad angles and debris because the more weight a branch holds, the more damage it’ll do when it falls.”

Wharran said there are some things homeowners should be on the lookout for if they feel it is nearly time for a tree to be either trimmed or cut down.

“If there’s branches hanging down in the way and preventing someone from walking underneath or if there’s broken branches, they can check their trees for bugs or holes in the trunks of the trees to see if there’s any spraying that needs done, and then they can contact me if they decide that work needs done,” Wharran said. 

Late fall and early winter is also a good time for trimming to take place, Wharran and Brunkhardt said.

“There’s less debris on the trees, meaning less leaves, so you can see much better,” Brunkhardt said. “Also, the sap has gone down into the roots, so it’s one of the best times for trimming trees anyway after a tree’s lost its leaves so we can see better if there’s any major issues that need to be dealt with. Another reason a tree can cause more damage in the winter is because trees aren’t as flexible and that’s because that sap’s gone down into the roots, so the wood becomes more brittle, so damage is more possible in the winter.”

“Ultimately, it’s up to the homeowners to make sure that stuff remains maintained,” Wharran added. “I see a lot of dead branches that need pruned or cut down, so taking care of that helps the city and homeowners a lot. I would say our work is pretty evenly spread throughout the year, but we do stay busy in the summer and fall. Winter’s typically a slow time unless there’s a big event like with the ice storm that happened in January. I’ve had some customers even call me about having that done already.”

Brunkhardt also talked about her company’s work after Winter Storm Jupiter.

“We were really busy after those ice storms, everyone was. It was awesome to have all that work to do, but it seemed everyone with a chainsaw was out there whether it was safe or not,” Brunkhardt said. “Our main goal when the storm hit was to getting rid of hanging branches and then branches that were half broken to prevent people from getting hurt and also damage to vehicles and other property. Then after those trees were secured, the ones that had fallen over were cut up and disposed of. We were busy but I couldn’t tell you how busy we were compared to others here in town. We had customers calling us after those ice storms but there was still ice out there and it was really dangerous to be moving trees and working under them. But we heard all the chainsaws going off and we ultimately decided to go out otherwise we would have lost customers and we had all our safety stuff on and made sure we all stayed safe.”

Both Wharran and Brunkhardt agreed it is important for such work to be done sooner rather than later. 

“It’s about keeping up that maintenance properly, mostly,” Wharran said. “If they trim their trees first, there’s less of a chance of branches breaking off and I’ve seen some people in town cut right down to the trunk of the tree, which isn’t good for the tree and it’ll shoot out branches in the wrong places.” 

“I’ll go back to last winter when we had all that damage from the ice storm that came through. Most of the trees we’d trimmed before that storm, they didn’t have nearly the amount of damage as the ones that hadn’t been trimmed,” Brunkhardt added. “Some of that is due to them already being cleared out and those bad angles being taken care of. When we had the storms, I noticed the elm trees had a hard time but the hybrid elms I’d planted around town ... it depends on the type of tree it is and how strong it is against storms and those things.”

While both Brunkhardt and Wharran emphasized hiring professional help with the actual trimming, there are a few small things homeowners can do. 

“Just be aware of where branches are growing and where trees are growing,” Wharran said. “There’s a lot of trees growing right next to fence lines, which people should be mindful of because if you don’t pay attention to it, it can tear up your fence. Mostly, just keep an eye on how everything is growing. As far as expectations, we’re just taking it a day at a time and keeping track of what’s going on. We can’t really lay out any expectations, we just have to be ready for if something does happen.”

“Wait until the frost or ice is gone and then after dressing up safely, you can go out and start clearing branches away from your property,” Brunkhardt added. “Always look up and make sure your space doesn’t have anything overhead that can hurt you. It’s important to cut the branch correctly (which should be done by a professional) rather than just tearing it off since that can ruin the tree, which we also saw a lot of after January’s storms.”

Brunkhardt added it is important for such maintenance to be done on an annual basis. 

“It’s important for homeowners to have their trees trimmed on a regular basis,” Brunkhardt said. “Just like a person getting a haircut, it’s not just for our looks, it’s for health too. It’s the same with trees, they need a yearly trim and if that gets done, it’s ultimately much less expensive than if it’s done after a major storm. You’re making sure there’s no breaks, you’re making sure the branches are growing correctly, all that. If we catch that stuff early enough, we can do that maintenance and get that taken care of.”




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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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