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How to Clean Up Tree Limbs After a Storm

Severe damage to trees occurs in the aftermath of heavy ice storms, strong winds and lightning. In the event permanent tree damage does not occur, the homeowner will still likely be faced with the laborious task of cleaning up broken tree limbs.

Trees often suffer from severe damage in the wake of a powerful storm: Large branches break; the crotch of the tree (the connection point between two or more tree limbs) can split; and, the trunk could undergo splintering or splitting.

Decide whether or not to tackle a DIY cleanup

Yards with trees downed by a storm require cleanup. However, a homeowner is advised to consider various factors before deciding whether or not to attempt a DIY cleanup. Tree care professionals are recommended when the safety of the homeowner or others is at stake.

The location and size of the tree matters. A tree that reaches heights of 20 feet or more requires the expertise of an experienced tree care or storm damage cleanup professional. If the cleanup requires climbing a ladder, a competent pro will be able to safely perform the job.

Examine the tree for signs of instability

The damaged tree may reveal signs of instability. The homeowner should inspect the shape and lean of the tree. The trunk may be decayed, display weak spots or have hanging limbs. If any of these features are present, the tree is unstable and cleanup demands taking extra precautions.

Survey the surroundings

Prior to beginning cleanup, inspect the surroundings. Utility lines, nearby buildings and vehicles can interfere with the tree limb cleanup. People or children may wander into the area, making the drop zone potentially hazardous. Before cutting limbs, ask, “What will happen when this branch is cut?”

Clean up small branches

Homeowners are advised to limit tree limb cleanup to the small branches on the ground. Similarly, if tree limbs less than two inches in diameter are reachable from the ground—without a ladder—it is safe for the homeowner to tackle a basic cleanup.

Broken branches that are less than three inches in diameter can be removed with pruning shears. Sharp shears have the ability to make a clean cut, thereby reducing the chances of tearing and crushing bark tissue—which can extend cleanup time. Larger branches may be cut with a power saw.

Pick up small twigs, branches and other debris. Consider that dry branches are ideal firewood. See if the local township will be willing to turn the dry branches into wood chips. The leaves on the branches may be composted and used to enrich the soil.

Repair damaged bark

Lightning strikes might tear the bark on large limbs or the main trunk of the tree. In such instances, the homeowner should trim the loose bark. Avoid cutting too deeply into the tree. Trimming the bark correctly will encourage quicker healing and minimal wood decay.

Repairing torn bark is effectively done with a chisel or sharp knife. Use the tool to carefully smooth the ragged edges of the torn bark. Be sure to avoid exposing the greenish inner bark, as these fragile layers contain the tree’s food and water lines between the roots and leaves.

Avoid topping

Homeowners may feel the urge to cut back the tree branches in efforts to avoid breakage during a future storm. Cutting the branches back to stubs, called topping, leads to the branches growing back weaker. These weakly attached branches are more likely to break during future storms.

Maintain the health of trees

Properly caring for the trees on the property will ensure they grow healthy and strong. In healthy trees, deadwood branches are less likely to break off during the height of a storm. Mulching, correctly fertilizing and adequate watering promote the optimum health of trees.

Hire a professional

Some storms leave tree damage that is beyond a homeowner’s capability to clean up. Severe storms can uproot trees, for example. When large trees are uprooted, they cannot be saved; rather, they must be removed with professional help. Smaller uprooted trees may be straightened with cables.

Split forks are a type of damage that professionals are better suited to handle. Forks or main branches split apart or partially break. The portions of an even split may be drawn together and secured with a steel bolt. Due to the difficulty level, experienced tree pros should be consulted.

Storms can cause more than tree damage. Roof damage can result when storms break tree limbs and hurl them through the rooftop. Windstorms have the capability of turning unsecured patio furniture into dangerous projectiles and force them through the siding.

ServiceMaster of Lancaster County

Properties that are affected by severe storm destruction may be quickly repaired. Home and business owners can turn to ServiceMaster of Lancaster County for top-notch reconstruction services. Our skilled teams include carpenters, subcontractors and handymen who will efficiently reconstruct your property.

ServiceMaster of Lancaster County provides comprehensive reconstruction services to buildings destroyed by storms of all severities. Property owners can expect full-scale remodeling, plumbing services, roof replacement or repair, painting, wallpapering and architectural reporting. We are your one-stop resource after storm damage.

Storms lead to serious exterior damage. But when moisture is a component, such as during heavy thunderstorms, indoor flooding can occur. ServiceMaster of Lancaster County is also experienced in flood damage restoration. We stop the rapid spread of water damage and restore the property.

Water damage is an emergency that requires immediate attention. Moisture is quickly absorbed into porous materials, leading to rotting, warping and mold growth. Our experienced crews eliminate all standing water, dry the affected areas, clean the property and restore damaged materials.

Whether your needs are quality reconstruction services or flood cleanup, ServiceMaster of Lancaster County is prepared to restore your home or business to its pre-loss condition. Our specialists stand by 24 hours a day to respond to calls in Lincoln, Nebraska. Call us for prompt, reliable restoration services.