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July 29, 2014
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Help storm-damaged trees recover from Hurricane Sandy


1. Document the tree damage/loss with photos and an evaluation from a certified arborist who has experience appraising trees. Such a certified arborist will be able to provide you with an estimated dollar value for your loss.

2. Consult the services of a tax professional. You may be entitled to some financial relief through a provision in the tax code that allows you to deduct casualty losses from your income tax.

The time to prepare your trees for tropical storms is long before hurricane season. Steps such as pruning trees right before a storm can lead to hasty or improper tree care. ISA also provides some tips to help prepare you and trees for possible future storm damage.

Pre-Storm Preparation:

Look for potential hazards. Investigate the condition of your trees. You or a certified arborist should look for damage such as cracks in the trunk or major limbs; hollow, aged, and decayed trees; hanging branches; improperly formed branches; one-sided or significantly leaning trees; and branches that may potentially rub the house.

Know your tree species. Some species are more prone to storm damage. You should have a certified arborist evaluate your trees for hardiness and resilience. Being aware of which trees may succumb to harsh weather conditions will help you decide if you want to replace these potentially dangerous species.

Do not top your trees. Untrained individuals may urge you to cut back all of the branches, on the mistaken assumption that it will help avoid breakage in future storms. However, professional arborists say that "topping," the cutting of main branches back to stubs, is extremely harmful and unhealthy for your trees. Stubs will often grow back many weakly attached branches that are more likely to break when a storm strikes. Also, topping will reduce the amount of foliage, on which the tree depends for the food and nourishment needed for re-growth. A topped tree that has already sustained major storm damage is more likely to die than to repair itself.

Protect your assets. Trees may increase property value by up to 20%. Find out if your homeowner's insurance will cover any damage your landscape may sustain due to unnatural causes, and include the total value of your trees when listing your assets for coverage. A certified arborist can provide an estimated value by inspecting your trees.

Trees are dynamic, living things that require proper care. Hiring an ISA Certified Arborist who can assist you with pre-storm inspections and post-storm repairs can help avoid unnecessary loss of your trees.