Martha Stewart Living Radio: The Radio Blog

Post-Hurricane Tree Care

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Today on "Homegrown," we had the privilege to speak with Stephen Schneider, manager of horticulture for the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. He supervises the staff who care for the 265 acres and 14,000 trees and shrubs in the oldest public arboretum in North America. We talked with him about caring for trees after Hurricane Irene blew through the east coast last weekend.

The best lesson we took away from Schneider was that, of all those 14,000 trees and shrubs, the arboretum lost only about 4 or 5 to the high winds and soaking rain of the hurricane. That’s because of the great care and grooming by him and his staff throughout the year. Impressive!

For those of us who weren’t so lucky, though, he provided some simple yet sage advice on how to deal with downed trees: Call a certified arborist, one who is fully insured. This is no time to try to save money or take on a "do-it-yourself" project that you’re really not qualified for. A downed tree or even a large branch can be very dangerous, and this time of year they are particularly heavy, especially after the kind of rain that accompanied Irene. Though most homeowners have both in the garage, "Chainsaws and ladders don’t mix," said Schneider.After a pro has cleaned up the tree, you have the opportunity to plant something new to replace it. Here are Schneider’s tips for that process:

  • Know that you can switch types of tree – you don’t have to replace a maple with a maple!
  • Do some research on the type of tree you want. Is yours the healthiest climate for it?
  • Do you have a large enough space to support its growth?
  • Check out where you want to plant the tree. Will it get the light it needs without having to reach for it? Will it drop things onto your car or driveway that you don’t appreciate?
  • Don’t forget to get the vantage from inside the house. Do you want to see the tree from your kitchen sink? Your desk? Your bed? Will it block the view or enhance it, through all the seasons?
  • Find a tree that will provide a habitat to local birds and animals, to help support the ecosystem.

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