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Monday, October 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Gardening with Pat Munts: Have arborists assess storm-damaged trees

Most of us can breathe a sigh of relief. The power lines have been untangled from the trees. Monster trees that fell every which way but up have been removed from roofs and blue tarps are holding off the weather. Smashed fences, cars and branches have been hauled off. Now it’s time to assess the long term damage. I gave you some quick and dirty advice a couple of weeks ago so it’s time go a little more in depth.

One of the biggest problems that has emerged after the cleanup is some trees have been uprooted but not enough to topple them. Again spruces seem to be the hardest hit. The trees will be leaning at an unnatural angle and their loosened root ball may have raised soil up on the windward side of the tree. While the trees might survive, they are at strong risk of falling under the weight of an ice storm or a heavy wet snow later this winter.

Assessing this risk and repairing the damaged trees is going to require the help of a certified professional arborist. Certified arborists have been rigorously trained to evaluate tree health and then apply corrective measures to restore the tree. Most of the certified arborists available in the region are certified by the International Society of Arboriculture but other certifying agencies include the Tree Care Industry Association or the American Society of Consulting Arborists. The city of Spokane maintains at list of certified arborists at its website, https://my.spokanecity. org/urbanforestry/ permits/, and WSU Spokane County Extension Master Gardeners maintains a list at http://ext100.wsu.edu/ spokane/wp-content/ uploads/sites/14/2015/05/ C084-INW-Certified- Arborists-15a.pdf.

Always ask for multiple written bids for your work that describes exactly what will be done, by when and any responsibilities you have as the homeowner, especially with cleanup. Get references and go check out their work. Check with the Better Business Bureau and the online contractor rating services like Angie’s List. Turn down anyone who comes door to door asking for the work, good reputable companies are too busy right now to be going door to door looking for work. That said, be patient, unless it’s an emergency, they will get to you as soon as they can.

Don’t take the lowest bid. You are looking for a combination of price, work to be done, experience, skill and professionalism. Trees are an important component of the value of your home.

Ask for the insurance certifications for the company you hire. They should have personal and property damage insurance as well as workman’s compensation coverage. If necessary, call the insurance company to verify their information. Arboriculture can be dangerous work. If you need work done on a street tree in the city of Spokane make sure your arborist gets the needed permits.

Certified arborists will only use industry standards for pruning techniques. Refuse any bids that call for topping trees, removing more live wood than necessary or removing or disfiguring live trees without a reasonable explanation or using climbing spikes on healthy trees.

Pat Munts is co-author of “Northwest Gardener’s Handbook.” She can be reached at pat@inlandnw gardening.com.

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