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Friday, October 30, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Gardening: Recent heavy, wet snow downed trees and branches, stunted fall leaf colors

Last week’s unexpected snowstorm did a lot of damage around the region. The heavy, wet snow brought down a lot of branches still covered with leaves especially on Spokane’s South Hill. Whole trees were broken off and branches were torn off trees. So, where do you go from here?

Don’t be a hero by trying to remove large or precariously balanced trees by yourself. Taking large trees down takes someone with experience on how to properly fell trees so they don’t land on something important like the neighbor’s house or car. Hire a reputable arborist even if it means waiting in line for him or her to get to you. Arborists come with experience, the right tools and liability insurance. The city of Spokane posted a list of licensed arborists on its website to help you locate one.

Now to the trees that had limbs torn off. The best thing you can do is trim up the ragged edges around the tear and let the tree heal itself. Don’t paint the wound with tree sealers, paint or tar; the tree does that effectively on its own. When a tree is damaged, the tree immediately seals off the damaged area forming a barrier from disease and rot. Cells around the damaged area begin to form new wood that eventually forms a ridge around the wound. If it’s a small wound, the ridge may eventually completely cover the damage.

If your arborist ends up chipping the branches, consider taking the chips and making compost. Pile them in a corner of the yard for a couple of years and then use them for mulch on beds or pathways. The mixture of wood and shredded leaves will heat up like a regular compost pile and break down the woody debris.

The cold temperatures that followed the snow pretty much ended any fall color for the year. It basically froze the leaves on the trees and halted the process that creates the color. Fine, thin leaves took the brunt of the damage and after a couple of days, appeared to curl and dry up. In my own yard after an 18-degree reading Thursday morning, my Japanese and vine maples are showing leaf freeze damage. Trees in protected areas fared better.

Unfortunately, when this happens, the leaves don’t go through the last step of detaching from the tree. They will hang on into the winter and eventually be blown off the tree or released in the spring. This means the trees could be further damaged when the snow arrives for good. Consider buying some long bamboo poles and use them to gently knock snow off the branches. Knock the snow off the tip of the branches first to release the weight gradually.

If you still have fruit on trees, get them picked and then watch for spoilage. Fruit hanging on branches at the edge or top of the tree are more likely to have frozen than those that were protected in the center of the tree under leaf cover.

Licensed and certified arborists in Spokane

AA Arborist Tree Service

(509) 270-5575

Aardvark Tree Service

(509) 891-7650

Affordable Arborist Tree Care

(509) 879-0577

Asplundh Tree Expert Co.

Budget Arbor & Logging

(509) 458-0838

Frontier Tree Service

(509) 487-8733

Grace Tree Service

(208) 762-5800

Greenleaf Landscaping

(509) 536-2885

Northwest Plant Health Care

(509) 892-0110

Paul Heindl

(509) 475-9135

Senske Lawn & Tree Care

(509) 532-7893

Spirit Pruners

(509) 979-3496

Spokane ProCare

(509) 483-5249

Tall Tree Service

(509) 747-8733

Source: City of Spokane

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