Last week’s ice storm, which destroyed or damaged thousands of trees, drastically changed the appearance of many neighborhoods.
“Spokane is not going to look the same for a long time,” said Tonie Fitzgerald, an agent with the Spokane County Cooperative Extension office.
Across the Valley and elsewhere in the Spokane area, thousands of trees were damaged, many so badly they must be removed, officials said.
Tree experts say homeowners don’t need to be in a rush to prune or remove trees unless they are so dangerously broken that more branches might fall.
Minor damage can be cleaned up by pruning smaller broken branches back to the next offshooting branch or to the trunk.
In the case of large broken branches or severe damage to the tree trunk, professional help should be sought.
Arborists said badly damaged trees can be saved with knowledgable help.
Homeowners should hire a professional arborist, especially one certified by the International Society of Arboriculture, parks officials said.
Untrained workers with chainsaws will probably roam the city in coming months seeking business, but they should be avoided, Fitzgerald said.
“Surgical precision (in pruning) determines whether a tree will heal over,” she said.
Rich Baker, a certified arborist, said, “The decision to remove a tree should be based on a competent opinion.”
Trees should not be topped, a practice that involves cutting off all the long branches. Topped trees are susceptible to rotting and insects and will become more dangerous when they regrow.
Taylor Bressler, park maintenance manager for the city, said homeowners can wait until spring to see how much life is left in badly damaged trees before deciding on pruning or removal.
Cleaning snow and ice from bent trees and shrubs is a good idea, if possible.
Bressler said nature has a way of clearing out weak and old trees, as last week’s ice storm dramatically demonstrated.
Ponderosa pines, which more easily adapt to severe weather, fared better than Douglas firs that lost their boughs.
Deciduous trees that grow fast or have soft wood were damaged the most. These include cottonwoods, black locusts, sycamores, willows and silver maples.
Oak trees held up well because they are strong but also bend.