If the tragic tree accident at Punch Pizza last weekend makes you question the safety of your own landscape, that may be the only silver lining to an otherwise dark day in Wayzata. The large tree snapped and injured an Oregon woman who was dining on the restaurant’s narrow outdoor patio. The old tree on the edge of the scenic 14-acre Big Woods preserve reportedly was weakened by disease. But several factors can make trees susceptible to snapping at any time or toppling over in high winds.
Mom’s wants our our sprawling Twin Cities area families to feel comfortable in their outdoor spaces, so we asked Property Manager Luke Walford from our Mom’s Fine Gardening division to prepare these tips keep you and your loved ones out of harm’s way.
Dead limbs are easiest to spot. They’re dry and brittle and most likely to snap. Removing them also prevents decay organisms from entering the tree.
Thinning the Canopy
Big, thick deciduous canopies catch the wind and make trees more top heavy and vulnerable. Thick canopies also slow drying, which can promote fungus. Have the branches professionally thinned so the wind can pass through. When cut properly, the wounds will self-seal.
Carpenter ants love to build nests in wet, rotting trees because they are easy to hollow out. If you suspect a nest in an old tree, put out some water-packed tuna or honey and use a red lens flashlight light to track where the ants carry the food after dark. Then place bait near the nest. Keep ant bait poison away from ponds, children, and pets.
Beware of shallow rooted trees such as ash, birch and maples in super-saturated clay soil. And avoid overwatering trees from poor grading, downspout outlet placement or an irrigation system without a rain gauge override.
Most important, remember that trees need regular fertilizer, water and disease monitoring even more than lawns and flowers. “The myth is that trees are big and they can take care of themselves, but nothing could be further from the truth.” Luke said. “Unlike trees in the forest, large trees in residential landscapes with thin topsoil need scheduled nutrition and water to remain healthy.”