Fixing a Storm-Damaged Tree
Judicious pruning and wound care are in order when a large branch splits off
I have an ash tree that my son brought home from school as a sapling back in 1986 or 1987. I planted the sapling and have taken great care to keep the branches looking good and to prevent crossed branches. The tree is now 25 or 30 feet tall and had a beautiful circular crown until a windstorm last fall. The storm brought down a branch that now threatens to split another branch. I've taken steps to secure the weakened branch by strapping it to a stronger one in two places. What do I do next, and how do I address the wound? I would really like to save this tree if at all possible.
Dan; Moline, IL
Roger Cook replies: If the first branch is split, cut it off. When you remove it, be careful not to cut the branch collar (the swollen ring of bark where the limb meets the main stem or trunk). Don't be afraid of creating a "hole" in the outline of the tree — it will grow in quickly. If the branch is not split, it should be permanently cabled in place with eyebolts and galvanized cable.
You should call a certified arborist for a consultation and have him or her recommend whether to prune it or cable it. If it's a large branch, or high off the ground, think about having the certified arborist cable it or remove it safely for you.