Friday, November 6, 2015

Preparing Your Trees For El Niño

We've blogged you to death about how to best protect your trees in California's worst drought in history. Now California homeowners are faced with another big challenge in protecting their trees and property from El Niño damage in what looks to be a serious weather disruption this year. Of course, we're talking in "what-ifs" here but as a property owner, reducing what-ifs minimizes liability. So, we thought we'd write this blog in the spirit of what-ifs...

What happens to trees if...

...El Niño brings the rain we've needed for years in one season?

If a tree falls from your property, you are liable.
Although Californians are hoping to regain some of the lost moisture in lakes and rivers, the damage of getting too much at once in combination with super dry drought soil is a scary thought. Why? First, the ground has a hard time accepting all that water at once. And since it can't be absorbed as quickly as it falls, it puddles and floods in places where it can. Secondly, eventually all that water and dry soil will create mud. And mud wreaks havoc. 
A Root Collar Exam by a Certified Arborist will determine if the roots of your trees are strong and healthy enough to withstand the weight of inches and inches of rain. A Root Collar Exam exposes smaller roots that grow tangled and overlapping, eventually creating a "stranglehold" on larger, main roots, which can severely damage or even kill a tree. (Curtis shows how this happens in this video:

 ...El Niño fosters unusually strong winds?

This is a pretty safe bet. If you've lived in California long enough to have been through an El Niño winter, you know that winds come with the territory. Think Santa Ana times three. The bigger question you may have is--how do I protect my trees against high winds?
The easiest way to protect your trees are to ensure they are well-rooted and healthy. When branches are in dormancy, they are still alive & pliable. When branches are dead, they are crisp & easily snap. One of the most important things you can do to prepare your trees for El Niño is to have any dead trees and branches removed. Since tree service, roof service and the like get VERY busy during the high season of El Niño, the sooner you have this done, the better. Otherwise, you may end up on a waiting list of several weeks!

...we're hit with both at once--high winds and torrential rain?

Be sure to have emergency numbers at the ready. In this scenario, being prepared makes all the difference. Your list should include neighbors, electrician, plumber, insurance companies (auto & home) and, of course, a 24-7 emergency tree service with Certified Arborists on staff (ours is 707-449-8653). A "Certified Arborist on staff" is as important as an electrician or plumber being certified. We are tree doctors. You wouldn't hire a doctor that isn't certified, would you? In the end, it may save you A LOT of hassle and money in the long run.
This can happen in 2 seconds!
The combination of strong winds and heavy rain is multiplied after a drought. Trees and landscape are weaker after weathering several years without regular water. As a result, trees are susceptible to infestation and disease when they are weak (their immune systems suffer, just like ours). And those diseased trees are the first to cause damage during a storm.
Just like you may have your roof checked before El Niño, it's important to care for the canopy above the canopy, too. Don't let procrastination cost you money! 

Wishing you a winter of the perfect amount.
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