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ISSUE 10   JULY 8,  1999



    Winds gusted to more than 90 mph, and were sustained at 70 mph, in Fargo on Independence Day.
Although most of the trees and large limbs which were lost had structural defects, the force of these high
winds also caused trees with no visible defects to snap. High winds caused broken limbs and dead trees
across North Dakota this year, leaving many people wondering how, or if, they should repair the damage
to their trees.

    After a storm, trees should be inspected carefullybefore any work is done to them. For large trees,
insure there aren’t any limbs contacting electrical lines. If limbs are touching power lines, leave the tree
alone and call your utility company or an arborist who is trained to work around conductors. In addition,
any limbs that are within ten feet of conductors should only be pruned by qualified line clearance professionals.
Always remove limbs that pose an immediate threat first. Large limbs broken in a storm may remain in
trees’ crowns and can be difficult to see until their foliage turns brown. This may take several days. If the
wind shifts, or the branch settles, limbs may fall to the ground causing additional damage. After those limbs
which pose an immediate threat are removed, all other broken limbs should be cleared from trees. When
tops are broken, a new leader, at least half the diameter of the broken leader, should be chosen. Trees
should never be pruned from ladders. If a tree owner is unable to reach limbs with a pole pruner from the
ground and/or is not comfortable performing the work to be done on a tree, he should contact an insured
professional to avoid additional damage or injury to himself or others.

    Small trees that are left unattended after wind damage may never meet their full potential because they
often develop defects which could cause them to become hazardous in the future. When a tree’s top is
broken off, remove the remainder of the stub down to the next highest branch which appears suitable to
serve as a new leader. Oftentimes, hardwoods with opposite branching patterns (ash, maple, etc.) and
upright conifers will form multiple leaders if not addressed after a windstorm. Multiple leaders of this type
form weak branch unions and are likely to fail as the tree becomes larger and the defect becomes more
severe. Therefore, remove other branches which are connected at the same node of the main stem as the
new leader. Tie, prop, or stake up the new leader in an upright position without breaking it. Once the
branch remains upright on its own, remove any support provided.

    Occasionally, trees must be removed after they are damaged by high winds. Trees will not normally
recover when the trunk or more than 50% of the major limbs have been broken. These trees, and trees
which become fairly lopsided after wind damage, should be considered for removal. In addition, large,
leaning trees and large trees that have been completely pushed over should be removed. Pulling these
trees upright, and guying them in place will usually result in future failures of the same trees.

How do I know if a tree is a hazard?

    There are no guaranteed methods to determine if or when a tree will fail, but there are two questions
that must be answered when determining if a tree is hazardous. First, is there a target for a tree to hit if
it fails? Examples of targets include buildings, cars, and people. Second, does a defect exist that would
cause the tree to fail? There are many different types of defects that can make trees fail. Defects include
decay (mushrooms and other fungi, rotten wood), dead wood, cracks, weak branch unions (narrow,
v-shaped crotches), soil mounding (root support lost and tree leaning away from the mound), and
others. Evaluating hazard trees can be complicated. If unsure, a tree owner should consult a professional
arborist or forester. The hazard potential of a tree may be reduced by moving the target (rerouting a
sidewalk), pruning (removing dead limbs and/or reducing crown weight), fencing off the area, or removing
the tree.

Marcus Jackson
Extension Forester



    Everything you do in your garden can influence the environment - either positively or negatively. Be a sound
gardener by following these tips:

    1. Incorporate organic matter in the soil every year. Organic matter conditions the soil. It aids in holding
water, holding nutrients and encourages micro-organism and earth worm development.

    2. Have the soil tested every 3-5 years. Soil testing provides information that helps guide you through
the season as far as fertility management goes. Otherwise, your fertilizer applications turn out to only be
guesses - sometimes right and sometimes wrong.

    3. Use mulch. Organic or poly mulch will both conserve moisture, and keep weeds in check. They
discourage the activity of some plant destructive insects. If you use organic sources for mulch, it can be
worked into the soil at the end of the year.

    4. Do not overwork the soil. This can destroy the soil structure if it is worked wet, frozen, or too dry.
If the soil has a history of being difficult to properly work up, consider raised garden beds to solve the problem.

    5. Use drip irrigation systems for watering. This very environmentally friendly method of watering the
garden is easy for the homeowner to install, and certainly conserves water use, as the language is in gallons
per hour
not gallons per minute. It also helps to control many disease problems by keeping the water off
the foliage.

    6. Keep the soil covered year-round. Soil, even in a small garden, is a precious resource that needs to
be conserved. Keep a crop on throughout the year. Sow oats or buckwheat in the fall once you have
removed vegetables at the end of the season. All it needs is to get 4-6 inches tall to be effective.

    7. Select crops that have disease resistance bred in. This provides the advantage of not needing pesticides
to as great an extent, and makes you a happier gardener to be able to harvest a good crop at season’s end.

    8. Use pesticides only when needed; and use the least toxic control for the specific pest. All pesticides
are poisons - whether they are organic or synthetic. Some have a very broad range of control, others
somewhat specific. Many times the damage is already done, and the pesticide is not needed. Or, the pest
is not going to have a detrimental effect on your garden.

    9. Use companion plants and trap crops, to keep destructive pests low. Bothered by aphids? Try
growing nasturtiums nearby to trap them. The nasturtiums appear to handle this pest, and the aphid prefers
this flower in most cases.

    10. Compost to recycle nutrients. Composting is a great gardening practice that will recycle nutrients
and benefit the soil. Composting also reduces the waste stream.

    Follow these 10 simple tips for sound gardening and a healthier environment!


Ron Smith
Extension Horticulturist & Turfgrass Specialist


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