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Damaged Trees Can Survive with Proper Care

If last weekend's freak snowstorm snapped off the top of your prize maple, call a certified arborist. With the right help you may be able to save your tree and enjoy it for years to come, according to Ken Almstead, a certified and licensed arborist who runs Almstead Tree and Shrub Care , a family business with offices in Westchester and Fairfield counties.

Almstead says that certain species of trees - magnolias, pin and red oaks, hickories, sweet gums, London planes and red maples - were especially hard hit. The reason for the widespread damage is related to the weather we've had this year. "A combination of the wettest year on record and a late fall meant that those trees were still holding a lot of water," Almstead says. When trees lose their leaves in the fall, he explains, the sap in the branches retreats into the roots. This year, many trees are still green and water-logged, and therefore more vulnerable to damage from sudden drops in temperature.

Almstead is a member of the International Society of Arboriculture , which educates and licenses its members. Arborists - think, "tree doctors" - learn everything there is to know about trees, from appropriate soils for planting, tree biology, disease and insect removal and prevention, safety and optimal pruning methods. A tree pruned by an arborist using the correct tools for each pruning situation will live longer and look better than a tree that receives no care.

A damaged tree can be saved if it receives corrective pruning from someone who knows what they're doing. Unfortunately, Almstead says, there are a lot of guys out there with chainsaws who are just hacking down trees and branches. Hanging branches  are a particular cause for concern because the area where the branch ripped off is a portal for rot and decay. Not to mention a danger to property or people below.

"Landscapers and homeowners tend to look down and clear up what's on the ground," he says. "Arborists always look up."

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