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How to save your trees damaged by winter weather
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This past ice storm proved to be very interesting for a lot of people.

I know spending a few days without power was a challenge for many. No heat or water for those who are on a well make us all appreciative of the convenience of having power.

In talking to parents, it was amazing how quickly their kids got “bored,” including mine, because no video games, TV or tablet could entertain them.

The trees around the county really took a beating, too. I have received many calls or emails from people wondering if they could save a tree or not.

Sometimes saving a tree is impossible. Or sometimes it’s a guessing game.

If you have some relatively small trees that had the tops broken, then many times they will naturally recover by making a new leader. But often the new leader has to be trained.

If you think this may be the case, choose a strong branch and remove any competing limbs. Then the tree will make the chosen limb its new central leader.

If the tree is severely topped out and it looks as if a new central leader cannot be established but you still want to try to salvage the tree, then you have two choices. You can either let it go and see what happens or cut it down and train a new tree from the stump.

If you cut it down, pick a strong branch from the stump and cull out all of the others that pop up. Eventually you will have a new tree to replace the other.

A lot of trees simply have been pushed over. Depending on the situation, most trees that topple over are not going to recover. Too many roots have been broken or exposed, and the tree will eventually die.

With small trees, the damage to the root system is not as bad. Setting them up again is not a big problem.

Before you set the tree upright, remove some dirt underneath so the roots are not exposed and above the soil line. Once it’s upright, fill in with soil where needed and water around the tree to fill in air pockets. Add two or three guy wires about two-thirds up the tree and stake them in to give the tree support and hold it in place. Be sure to use a wide piece of fabric so it does not dig into the bark of the tree.

Hopefully things in everyone’s landscapes and yards get back to normal. I hope for the best if you plan on saving a tree.

Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, His column appears weekly and on

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