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Cleanup tips for winter storm-damaged branches, injured trees

High winds and heavy snowfall from winter storms over the last week have left some Michigan homeowners with injured trees or broken branches. Safety is a big concern when dealing with storm cleanup, especially in freezing cold temperatures.

After a storm, first assess whether there are broken tree limbs located near power lines or lying on your home. These should be dealt with by professionals. Experts should also handle any hanging branches and split limbs you can’t reach from the ground. Stay away from debris tangled in power lines andimmediatelynotify your utility company.

After hazardous limbs are addressed, proper pruning and care of your injured trees are important for safety and for the long-term health of the trees. This can be accomplished when work conditions are safer in spring.

If your trees have only weathered minor damage, the winter pruning tips offered in this "Showcasing the DNR" story can help ensure the health of your trees.For other common situations, see the following tips:

  • Get expert help for climbing or chainsaw work. Licensed arborists are tree care professionals trained to assess storm-damaged trees; they have the experience needed to determine how much of a tree can or should be saved. Always ask for proof of licensing, insurance and work references. Find more information about hiring an arborist from ISA-Michigan, Michigan’s chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture.
  • Keep pests in mind when disposing of wood. Wood left behind after trees are damaged by storms may harbor insects or diseases harmful to forests. Moving debris out of the local area can spread pests.
  • Recycle or re-use woody storm debris. Check the national Don’t Move Firewood campaign for recommendations on seasoning and using local firewood.

Helpful resources

Questions? Email DNR-Forestry@Michigan.gov.

Find more information about tree care and community forestry at Michigan.gov/UCF.