After last month’s ice storm brought down branches and trees across the county, some may be wondering about the next steps.

The E-T reached out to local ISA certified arborist Arlon Feuerbacher of Lovell Lawn & Landscape, Inc. to get some recommendations. 

“The damage is overwhelming and even one month out, we can still drive around town and see the damaging effects from the ice,” Feuerbacher said. “But you know you are in Texas when a crisis hits and the outpouring of help comes from so many good people. While out in the field this past month I have worked alongside church groups, volunteers and other professional arborists.”

An arborist is an individual trained in the care of trees or shrubs and can provide a variety of services — pruning, removal, emergency tree care, planting, plant health and fertilization.

“The cleanup efforts have been nothing short of what I have grown to love about this town — neighbors helping neighbors, dumpsites made available and continued efforts still ongoing,” Feuerbacher said. “Joey Prichard, David Vasquez and myself talk daily about what we are seeing and decided to offer a few suggestions that you might consider if you are still looking at broken branches or split trunks.”

Here are some recommendations from Feuerbacher, the ISA Texas and oak wilt websites and the Texas A&M Forest Service.

Damage does not always mean removal

“The most important thing is to observe the tree for any split or broken branches. Trees can be deceiving, they may look fine from the ground but up in the tree there is often many split branches,” Feuerbacher said. “Split branches are susceptible to falling at any time causing either harm or damage. However, if your tree has damage it does not mean that it has to be completely removed. A phone call to a local certified arborist to determine the tree vitality would be best.”

Hiring certified arborists

“Look for membership in a professional organization such as the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) or the American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA),” the ISA Texas website states. “Be wary of individuals who go door-to-door and offer bargains for performing tree work. Good arborists will only perform accepted practices. For example, practices such as topping a tree or using climbing spikes on live trees are not necessary.”

Feuerbacher adds that a licensed arborist should be able to show their credentials and assigned number.

Restoration

“Restoration can take several years of light pruning to redirect new growth so that a tree’s canopy will be balanced and aesthetically pleasing,” Feuerbacher said. “Weight reduction of limbs and cabling may also be necessary to help prevent further damage.”

Prevention and treatment after damage

“Trees will be stressed more than ever after losing more than half their canopy. It is important to remove the limbs that have been broken and torn, and for the cuts to be treated with a pruning paint,” Feuerbacher said. “This is necessary for live oaks, red oaks and burr oaks, which are susceptible to the disease oak wilt that is very common in our area.”

Oak wilt

Oak wilt is a disease caused by fungus that invades and disables the water-conducting system in susceptible trees, according to the Texas Oak Wilt website.

Staff forester with the Texas A&M Forest Service, Rachel McGregor-Servin, talked to the E-T about signs to look for.

“The main thing to look for are chlorotic, yellow, and necrotic, brown, veins in live oaks,” she said. “And also a pattern of mortality — other oaks dying in the area. Red oaks often die within three to four weeks after symptoms of oak wilt.”

Oak wilt can be spread by insects and by moving infected wood from other locations.

Once signs appear, a certified arborist should be contacted for treatment or diagnosis. The Forest Service can also be contacted for more information.