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Learn exactly how to help your trees and landscape recover after a big storm.

Step-by-Step: How to Clean Up the Yard and Trees After a Storm

August 29, 2017

The howling wind has finally died down, and the rain, too, has stopped falling. While the storm is officially out of town, the mess it left behind remains.

Puddles across the landscape, downed tree branches, defoliated plants–what needs your attention, and what will rebound on its own? A Davey blog reader recently asked us what to do about her two, native black walnut trees that were stripped of their large branches by tornado winds.

Learn exactly how to help your landscape recover after a big storm and have it look tip-top once again.

After Storms, Clean Up the Landscape in 7 Steps.

Before you head outside to tidy the mess, make sure there are no downed power lines or trees leaning on power lines. And if there is ice or snow, wait for that to melt before beginning.

  1. Inspect trees. After storms, your tree may pose a safety risk–especially if you see large fallen branches, a split tree trunk or a broken tree top. Look for danger signs, like these, and see what you should do next.
  2. Pick up small twigs, leaves and debris. Use as you please. When dry, branches make excellent firewood. Or see if your local township will turn them into wood chips. As for the leaves, compost them and work them into the soil to improve it.
  3. Clean up smaller branches. If you examined your tree, saw no major structural damage and only a few small branches damaged, you can likely DIY. The caveat? The branches should be less than 2” in diameter and be able to be accessed from the ground without a ladder. If that’s the case, grab your tree trimming tools, and remove small damaged branches.
  4. Trim leaf-damaged plants. If the stems of your annuals, perennials or vegetable plants are still intact, simply remove the damaged leaves. Even if the flower or shrub was uprooted, you can try to replant and prune if the stem looks okay. Just don’t remove more than a third of leaves at once. That way, your plants will have enough leaves left to replenish what they lost. 
  5. Remove plants with broken stems. On the flip side, if your plants have damaged leaves and a snapped stem, it’s not going to recover. So, remove and replace.
  6. Fix small or large puddles on the lawn. If you often spot a small pool in the yard after storms, you’ve got a problem with water runoff in that area. Try planting water-loving shrubs or trees nearby, so they can help soak up that water. Or if it’s a larger puddle each time, consider filling in the depression or redirecting the water flow.
  7. Help your trees recover. Small actions, like mulching, proper watering and fertilizing, throughout the year help maintain the health of your trees. And in turn, healthy trees are less likely to have deadwood break off during storms.

Spot a serious tree issue? Click here for a free consultation with your local tree expert!

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