One of our maple trees that is about 30 years old was damaged by the winds of Ike and now the recent ice storm. Both central leaders were broken off three-quarters of the way up. Also, multiple side limbs were broken. The whole top of the tree is a mess of broken limbs. Should we try to save this tree or cut it down? We would hate to lose the shade.
The Gardener’s Answer
Hi, Carol: As I pondered your question, I found myself looking out the window to the back garden where there are two very old maples that sound similar to yours. I also would hate to lose the shade but it will give me an opportunity to plant something that is more suitable for the space, and I will certainly feel safer for when the next storm blows through. The reality is we have had some intense weather conditions the past several months. It is evident that the mature trees were harder hit than some of the newer plantings and maples certainly had their share of damage. I hate to tell you this but it does not sound good for your tree. Of course I cannot say for sure without seeing it, but if both central leaders are damaged, regardless of the other limbs that splintered, broke, or are still hanging in the tree, it will not be healthy for long. Nutrients will not be available to the rest of the tree and it will become even more stressed, which will make it more susceptible to insect and disease problems. It is sad to think of losing the shade but if the tree is near your home or another structure, that makes safety an issue and it is better to have it removed. It is an important decision and one that should involve a certified arborist. You can contact your County Cooperative Extension Service for local arborists. I am sure they are extremely busy right now but have them come out and look at your tree. Only hire a certified and insured arborist to remove your tree. Visit the following link to find your County offices: www.ca.uky.edu/county/