Pruning Ice Damaged Trees After a Storm
Part of the work for homeowners after the recent ice storm across the United States is going to be the process of pruning trees in the landscape and around the home. There are an enormous amount of trees with broken and damaged limbs that are either going to have to be removed or pruned back to allow the tree to recover and prevent these broken limbs from falling and causing further damage. When doing this it is important to make sure you have the tools necessary to do this without getting injured. There will be some work that a homeowner will be able to perform with normal pruners, long handle loppers, long reach loppers, hand saws for cutting trees, or pole saws that will allow the work to be done from the ground without climbing up in the trees. There will be other trees either too large or with limbs too big for the average homeowner to perform and will require hiring a professional with larger equipment.
There are two types of pruning cuts that are best for the overall health of the tree. The first one is called a removal cut. This is where the broken or damaged limb is removed all the way back to a main branch or the main trunk of the tree. When making this pruning cut it is important to not leave a stub, but also not cut too deep to damage the main branch or the main tree trunk. The objective is to make a cut that will be able to heal over without injuring the main part of the remaining tree. When possible this is the best way to prune a limb that has been damaged.
The second type of pruning cut that is recommended is a reduction cut. This is where the damaged or broken limb is pruned back to a smaller limb, called a lateral branch. The lateral branch should be about 1/3 the diameter of the limb being removed. This type of pruning cut is used for making clean cuts behind jagged tips of broken branches. With all of the breakage from the recent storm there are going to be many limbs that can be pruned using this method.
When working on trees with many damaged or broken limbs that are up to 2 inches in diameter it may be helpful to use ratchet pruners. These tools are designed to make cutting larger limbs easier by the design of the tool using a ratchet design built into the pruner.