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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Jeff Ball: The Yardener

An arborist might save you from disaster


The incredible damage to trees caused by those very violent thunderstorms that smashed through Southeastern Michigan recently has me thinking. No one actually knows how many trees were destroyed by the storms, but you can be sure it was tens of thousands. Wouldn't it be terrible if the number of trees destroyed by the storms is higher than the number of trees that were planted in the same area all of last year?

Here's another disturbing thought: It is generally known and has been proven that when a certified arborist and crew prune a mature deciduous tree (like an oak, hickory, maple), three of their services are critical. They evaluate the health of the tree in terms of any threat to the home or driveway, remove all dead or dangerous branches and, most importantly, thin out the main crown of the tree. It may not look thinned because they know how to take out a significant volume of wood while not damaging the outward appearance.

How many of the trees that went down in those storms would not have gone down had they been given the attention of a professional arborist every four or five years? In most cases, a tree that is pruned by a certifiedarborist is very unlikely to go down in a wind or ice storm. The other question is: How many homes would not have been destroyed?

Hiring an arborist is not free. It can cost from $600 to more than $1,000 to prune one large, mature tree that has not been previously pruned. How many mature trees do you have that could hit your house or driveway if they came down in a storm? It's a hard decision, especially with hard economic times facing many of us.

But here is the really bad news: According to the National Weather Service, we can expect storms with the same violence through July and into August. That's not a pleasant prediction even if we have no trees.

In those recent storms many people were without electricity for what they felt were too many days compared to prior DTE response times. What is different now are the dead ash trees that have been killed by the emerald ash borer and can be found throughout Southeastern Michigan. Dead trees are far more likely to come down in a storm and take electric wires with them. That problem will be with us for years.

Most tree companies run by certified arborists will come to your home and give you a free evaluation of the needs of your large trees and estimate what those services will cost. You can spread the pain by doing a couple of trees each year.

Jeff Ball, a Metro Detroit freelance garden writer, has a yard care Web site at www.yardener.com, and his blog is at gardeneryardener.blogspot.com.

This Article Found In The Detroit News Saturday, June 28, 2008

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