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Storm Preparedness Tree Trimming

A storm is coming. All are scrambling to be ready. You know that you are because you've got all the supplies you could possibly need. But wait! You go outside and realize that those beautifully large trees need some attention. There's still work to be done. What this means is that you've got to make some time to prepare your yard for the coming storm in order to prevent possible damage.

With a little help, this shouldn't take more than 2 hours. You've just got to ensure that you don't have to worry should things get bad. And be sure to do this only after you've properly and completely secured in and around your home, after you've stocked up on the supplies you'll need. It's only after all that that your attention should be given over to securing for your yard.

Alright. You're securing your landscape for a storm with sustained winds of at least 40 miles an hour. Over a short time, really terrible damage could be done to your trees. The nature of a storm with an eye is for the target to endure a pummeling by winds from one direction for the first half, as the storm approaches to meet you. Now, as you're enduring the second half when the storm is moving away, the winds have shifted 180 degrees so that they are now coming from the opposite direction.

That's a lot of stress on trees and their root systems. First this way, then that way—for many hours, if not days. I've seen 10 foot trees, and taller, snap back and forth to the ground, back and forth without stopping.

Very freaky and more than a little scary. Trees at highest risk of damage by winds this strong usually have a large spreading crown that is at least 15 feet off the ground. A tree, or a branch, could be leaning just a bit too much one way and sure poses a hazard of becoming snapped or broken loose.

A tree could have injured or damaged branches or trunks, a weakened structure somewhere that just needs a little push to finally fall to the ground. Profuse growth of mushrooms or other fungi at the base of trees or in the ground around them are specific indicators of vegetative decomposition. Keep a sharp eye. Could be that the root system is failing. This could mean that the entire tree could easily topple.

You'll need to make a judgment whether each tree is strong enough to take it, or if it's likely unable to make it. You'll need to decide on whether or not it could become a flying projectile. And flying projectiles you must avoid.

You've got to take down any branch, or tree, that you know is weak enough, or may be weak enough, to break off, be ripped or torn off, or even uprooted entirely. Take a measure of every tree in your yard to within 200 feet from the house. Medium to large trees with a full spreading crown need to be thinned down. This means that you lesson the amount of vegetation up there. Remove all the branches that make up the perimeter of the crown, along with shorter, heavy ones that you think may break or become airborne.

You could even reduce the crown from the top by a few feet. If the crown is really thick and full of leaves, you'll want to trim off branches everywhere. If you're really worried, remove a good 50% of all foliage. I like to reduce it to only 30% of the whole. This would depend upon each tree and how healthy and strong it is. Really large diameter trunks or branches can be taken down with a chain saw or an axe.

With a care for your own safety, please don't handle such devices unless you know how. If you've got to climb, you'd better know how to climb. Otherwise, honestly, don't do it.

A ladder is highly, highly recommended. Smaller trees, even large hedges, can also be trimmed, if you feel it necessary. Other tools that you can readily use are hedge shears or pole saws. Don't go getting carried away now and start trimming for beauty. A storm is coming! Focus! Give serious attention to power lines.

Look at the location of any power lines that pass over or beside your property. Are their branches or trunks that, if they snap and fall, are able to touch or even brush against any power lines? Never forget that a snapped power line or a downed power pole could result in a loss of power, electricity. This will then result in loss of power to water wells and water pump stations. And now you have no water. Believe me, you don't want to go there.

Trim it down. You should also consider branches or trunks near the house, near other buildings in your yard, near cars, boats or other large contraptions. If the storm is strong enough, don't take chances. They'll grow back with time.

You know it. What you don't want is to be sorry that you couldn't just cut that branch. You wouldn't just trim that tree. If you had, your car wouldn't need a new windshield.

You wouldn't be able to see inside the living room from the driveway. Really give each tree the consideration your home deserves. Don't take chances. Be safe.

Len Q. is a knife sharpening expert and a biologist. If you would like to know about - Knife Sharpening: How to Sharpen Knives, Maintain and Store Them - Sharpening Other Edges (i.e. Lawn Mower Blades, Chain Saws, Gardening Tools, Axes) Find it here at

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