Gardens in Clark County might require TLC following cold breeze


Feb. 20—Ice could be lovely clinging to greenery, however, the harm it does to shrubs and trees can vary from unsightly to completely harmful. One of the oddest things that a homeowner can hear through a storm would be that the ominous crack of a tree limb breaking. Even woody shrubs aren’t resistant to the ravages of ice and might require some post-storm care.

If you are thinking about how to assess storm damage in your lawn and everything to do should you discover it, local specialists can help. The Columbian spoke to some professional gardener, a certified arborist and Vancouver’s Urban Forestry staff that will assist you determine what to search for and when to call a specialist.

The very best time to begin, however, is prior to the storm comes.

“Proper pruning and maintenance is the best defense against storm-related tree damage,” Vancouver’s urban forester and arborist Charles Ray said. “Most of the tree damage after a storm is on trees that either have been previously topped or have not been properly pruned. Proper pruning establishes good branch structure and removes dead or decayed limbs.”

Arborist Scott Clifton agreed. He’s been occupied as Clark County’s ice and snow clears, but maybe not on trees he frequently services.

“The properties that I’m working on are people that like to defer maintenance, so they’re paying for it all now,” Clifton, proprietor Treewise Professional Tree Service,


Learn more at Vancouver’s Urban Forestry webpage, “Your Trees and Severe Weather,” in

For more info, contact Urban Forestry in 360-487-8308 or [email protected]

If you are thinking of hiring an arborist, visit

Friends of Trees might have the ability to give help in planting a new tree to replace one lost to storm damage; see or contact Vancouver’s Friends of Trees representative Kassy Delgado in 503-467-2530 or even [email protected]

To report a downed tree to a public roadway or sidewalk within the town of Vancouver, telephone the 24-hour Operations Dispatch hotline in 360-487-8177.

For people looking out their windows in ice-damaged shrubs and trees now, time-travel is not an alternative. What can you really do immediately to evaluate and mitigate storm damage?

For shrubs, a rapid visual review must provide you all of the info that you want. Gently pull apart leaves or branches on bigger shrubs like rhododendrons to find a better perspective of the internal supporting constructions, stated Erika Johnson, manager of this Master Gardener program in the Washington State University Clark County Extension.

“Look for broken branches or bent branches, and then prune out any broken branches back to the trunk or a lateral branch without cutting into the lateral branch or trunk. You don’t want to make it smooth and cut into the other branch, but you don’t want to leave a stub,” Johnson said. “For a plant like lilac that has many stems that go back to the root without a lateral branch, those plants are going to be OK cut back to the damage point.”

Johnson noticed that lots of trees tend to be less vulnerable to ice and snow damage since they are more streamlined, but even demanding natives like kinnikinnick could be damaged by ice since woody plants are somewhat less elastic compared to herbaceous plants.

Trees are another story due to their sheer bulk. An ice-damaged tree may be an eyesore but it is unlikely to hurt you. If you have a tree using a busted back or even a downed branch, be really cautious about approaching the region.

“Sometimes the answer is, get away from it,” Clifton stated, pointing out that occasionally ice damage is not immediately visible.

“The tree isn’t going to change color or anything,” Clifton said. “What you’re looking for is cracks or broken limbs. Even the root system, you’re going to want to look at that to see if there’s any heaving.”

If the shrub is covered in ice, Clifton stated, leave it alone as an icy tree is an unstable tree.

“A lot of time what people will do is, ‘Oh, gosh, look at all this ice! It’s so heavy!’ ” Clifton said. “They’ll go over there and they’ll try to knock the ice off and the whole limb will come down.”

Even if big limbs have already dropped to the floor, a specialist can ascertain whether the fracture has caused structural difficulties or left the tree vulnerable to potential disease or decay.

When in doubt, call an arborist — but be certain you’re employing a single certified by the International Society of Arborists. To look for I.S.A.-certified arborists in Clark County (or to confirm the credentials of a arborist you are considering hiring), see

An arborist will have the ability to estimate the viability and stability of your ruined tree, but also identify other problem areas you have overlooked.

“I’ll do a walk-through of the entire site, because things will be missed in the initial clean-up,” Clifton said. “We may pull up on the site and there’s a tree lying on the house and that’s our immediate concern. Potentially there could be a tree around the corner that hasn’t fallen, but is about to.”

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