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Vermont Garden Journal: Salvaging Trees After The Storm

Many trees in Vermont, like this one in Middlebury, were damaged or uprooted from wind and rain during a late October 2017 storm.
Melody Bodette, Courtesy
Many trees in Vermont, like this one in Middlebury, were damaged or uprooted from wind and rain during a late October 2017 storm.

The storm earlier this week caused significant damage to many trees in Vermont. The combination of ferocious wind and heavy rain uprooted large trees and, in the process, damaged nearby trees as well. While uprooted trees can't be saved, you can salvage trees with broken branches.

How to assess the damage

If you have lots of damage, especially on large trees, it's best to call an arborist to give you an estimate for the work.

If only a few branches were snapped on small-to-medium-sized trees, some pruning can save the tree.

However, if the top of the tree was snapped and many branches are broken, it might be best to use that tree for future firewood.

Tackling salvageable trees

  • On salvageable trees, carefully remove any nearby limbs leaning on your tree making sure branches don't fall on you.
  • Cut back snapped side branches to the branch collar (an area of wrinkled bark a few inches from the trunk). Don't bother using tree paints to help seal the cut. 
  • Cut any loose bark with a sharp knife to where it's still attached to the trunk. Make clean cuts so insects won't hide under the bark. Don't worry about pruning to shape the tree or balance branches at this point. Your role here is to help the tree survive winter.

Now for this week's tip: It's okay if newly planted garlic or spring flowering bulbs are starting to grow due to our warm fall. Cold weather is coming and they will stop their growth. Protect them with bark mulch or straw and, even if their tiny shoots are damaged, the bulbs will survive to grow in spring. 

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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