trees can be successfully bolted back together and thrive for many
of a Hurricane always seems like a total disaster. Damaged buildings,
property, and landscape usually appear to be ready for the bulldozer and
giant tub grinder. But when a more comprehensive site assessment of the
landscape has been done, many landscape trees, shrubs, and palms are not
only salvageable but great candidates for raising and recovery.
a fallen tree, first check the main trunk. If it is not fractured, bent,
has stress cracks, or large amounts of the bark have not been ripped off
then check the root system. A general rule that I use is the “50
% rule”. If 50 % or more of the root system is relatively undamaged,
that is if still attached to the trunk and still firmly rooted into the
ground, then inspect the scaffold branches. The scaffold branches are
the main structural branches that come directly out of the trunk and hold
the weight of the rest of the canopy. If the scaffold branches are in
good condition and have not split or cracked off from the main trunk,
then the tree is probably a good candidate for restanding.
the fallen tree, I recommend only cutting off broken branches and not
trimming the entire tree while it is down. After raising the tree, let
it recover before further pruning. Branches that are on top of structures
or utilities should of course be removed. Be very careful working around
system is a much neglected area of trees. Don’t just pull the tree
upright and stake it. Before the tree is moved, dig a substantial amount
of soil from underneath the trunk and root ball so that when the tree
is upright, the top of the root ball is even with the ground once more.
When the tree has been raised, leave it connected to the equipment while
the soil that just had been removed is placed back into the hole. Do not
use different soil! Don’t worry about fertilization. At this point
it is a waste of time and money. The most critical issue is to wash the
soil into and underneath the trunk and root ball so that no air pockets
are left. If there is no water at this time, stake the tree but make sure
you come back and finish washing in the soil as soon as possible! When
air pockets are left within the root zone, the roots will never penetrate
that area leaving the tree unstable and vulnerable to windthrow once again.
I have seen large trees successfully replanted only to have large branches
begin to die-off several months later. After washing in more soil (by
using steel bars to penetrate the soil to find the holes) the trees eventually
location, compacted soil, and poor horticultural conitions are responsible
for the majority of withthrow and tree damage.
of equipment that should be used to raise a fallen tree is of course dependant
upon the size, dimensions, and weight of the tree. Location of the fallen
tree for equipment access is also critical. If you are using a crane or
tow truck, is the area free of power lines? What about underground utilities?
Large equipment is very heavy; can the ground support the weight? Is the
equipment operator/owner insured and licensed? Smaller trees can be raised
by hand with various types of equipment such as chain falls that are motorized
or hand operated. I have had great success using large tow trucks to raise
60’ tall Bald Cypress trees, very large Ficus trees, palms, and
other plant material sometimes from distances up to 200’ away from
that is used to attach the cable(s) from the equipment to the tree is
something that requires some thought and much expertise. Great pressure
is exerted against the wood and bark where the straps are attached to
the branches or the trunk. More points of attachment mean less stress
to the tree. Sometimes pressure damage does not show up in large trees
for several years when whole branches begin to die-off. Only use tree
straps. Do not use chains or cables to directly attach to the tree.
adequate watering is very important to the survival of newly planted trees,
especially palms. Remember how deep the roots of the tree were before
you raised it? You need to get the water to penetrate to that area and
a bit below for the roots to recover and thrive.
a few more points that need to be considered with this process of tree
recovery. Use professionals to work on your trees. Make sure the contractors
are licensed, insured and experienced. Every tree and palm species is
different. The thickness of the bark is different and the density of the
wood is different which causes different reactions to the stress of being
pulled up. I recommend always using a tree company that has an ISA Certified
Arborist on staff.
be aware of the trees codes of the municipality where your property is
located. Make sure you photograph the fallen tree before pruning. A written
report from a Certified Arborist may be required and prior documented
notification to the municipality is prudent before any work is done.
Certified Municipal Arborist FL-1052AM