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updated: 7/2/2012 6:47 PM

Arboretum offers tips for handling damaged trees

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Daily Herald report

The Morton Arboretum in Lisle is offering tips for homeowners hoping to extend the lives of their trees and prevent further property damage in the wake of Sunday's storm.

"Pruning when high winds rip large limbs off a tree can help improve the tree's structure by removing branches that are weak, dead or diseased," Plant Information Specialist Doris Taylor of the Arboretum Plant Clinic, said in a written statement. "It is imperative to prune branches with jagged cuts and hanging branches as soon as practical."

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Taylor said damaged trees attempt to isolate their "wounded" areas, growing a wall of cells to block any possible tree rot from infiltrating the trunk. However, when a wound is jagged, the wall could be compromised, leaving the tree vulnerable to diseases or pests.

The arboretum recommends a four-step pruning process:

1. Remove as much of the damaged branch as possible to reduce the weight pulling on the trunk.

2. Cut beneath the remaining damaged branch, roughly one-third of the way up through the branch. Make this cut between the edge and the "branch collar," a swollen area where the branch arises from the trunk.

3. Make a final cut entirely through the branch, just beyond the branch collar.

4. Never cut flush with the trunk, which would cause a very large wound and make it difficult for the tree to heal. In contrast, trees that receive a clean cut develop a hard edge, like a callous, which is a sign the tree has healed.

Residents with question about damaged trees may call the arboretum's plant clinic for free assistance at (630) 719-2424 or visit plantclinic@mortonarb.org.

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