Winter isn't coming. It's already here, and with the cold weather come the inevitable snow and ice storms that wreak havoc on power lines, roadways, and trees. Ice-wrapped trees may look metal, but they can cost you plenty of gold. Weak and diseased trees are susceptible to losing large limbs or toppling over in ice storms.
Assess and manage your trees before and after ice storms to reduce the chances that you end up in the hospital or a courtroom. Here's what you should know.
Indiana Wants You-To Care for Your Trees
In Indiana, you're responsible for any trees growing on your property. The state's Supreme Court ruled in 1991 that landowners have a duty to perform routine inspections on their trees so that trees don't fall and endanger people or property.
If you don't exercise reasonable care in assessing and managing your trees, you're subject to lawsuits. If someone suffers personal or property injury because one of your trees falls on them or their stuff, they can sue you to recover medical expenses and property-damage costs.
Legal experts advise landowners to have a professional assessment made of their trees before the worst winter weather hits. Not only will an expert tree service terminate the trees that can't take the ice, but you'll also have a written document proving that you followed the law by having trees inspected and removed.
Healthy-Looking Trees Can Be Death Traps
The trees in your yard may look awesome now, but they could be hiding defects and vulnerabilities that make them easy targets for ice damage and disaster. Ice on a tree can increase the weight of its branches by over 30 percent. If the tree is weak or the winds are strong, branches, limbs, and entire trees can fail.
Several other factors can make trees more fragile with a coating of ice. These include trees that have:
- Dead or decaying limbs and branches
- Broad-spreading limbs with high surface area
- Topped-off crowns
- Position at open edge of forest
Trees on the outside edge of a grove or forest are more at risk from ice damage because more of the branches are exposed. This is also true of trees lining ponds, streams and other bodies of water.
Another condition that can cause tree limbs to snap is called "included bark." This condition happens when a tree trunk splits into two branches and bark starts growing in the crotch. The bark weakens the tree at the joint and makes it easier to split off when coated with a heavy layer of ice.
Call in the experts to assess your trees if you're not sure whether one or more of your trees are weak or vulnerable. Your tree service assesses trees for you and then trims, prunes or removes trees that pose hazards.
Brittle Wood Makes Brittle Trees
When ice coats a tree species that has brittle wood, the branches are far easier to break because the tree is naturally more "splinter-prone." Trees that are more vulnerable to ice damage include:
- American and Siberian elm
- Black cherry
- Black locust
- Bradford pear
- Green ash
- Pin oak
- Silver maple
Other tree species that have brittle wood include varieties of poplars, birches, and willows. Many people plant these varieties because they grow quickly, but that rapid growth can spell rapid collapse when an ice storm hits. The following trees are better choices for replacement:
- American sweetgum
- Black walnut
- Blue beech
- Eastern hemlock
- Littleleaf and silver linden
- White and swamp white oak
Replace and replant your property with heartier trees that have a higher resistance to ice breakage.
Ice Damaged Trees Can Recover
If you wake up and find your trees drooping and heavily laden with ice, don't panic. Don't go out and try to knock the ice loose, either. You may get clobbered by a sudden branch fall.
Let the ice melt and the trees have a chance to stand back up again. Some trees that look like goners may actually be perfectly fine. Then, call Above & Beyond Tree Service Inc to do an inspection. We properly care for your ice-damaged trees and remove the trees that are hazards.