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Recent storms have caused damage to trees, landscapes, and homes across the country. Many trees are too large for homeowners to safely remove.  With over 50 fatalities yearly nationwide for professionals removing or pruning trees, the rate is much higher for people not trained in specialized tree work. Proper tools and equipment, as well as safety procedures, must be used.

Pruning initiates wound response by trees (compartmentalization), isolating microorganisms and insects to avoid further damage. Remove broken or damaged limbs, but not more than one-third of the branching system of any tree. If more than one-third of branches have been damaged, remove the tree. Cut limbs back to a lateral branch collar swelling, do not leave a stub. Do not paint or seal wounds, which should be allowed to heal naturally.

A fact sheet from Oklahoma State has more information:
NFG 5/31/2019

WEATHER WOES have plagued us all summer.  Monthly data from DEOS (the Delaware Environmental Observation System) indicates that most areas in the state are already over the average yearly rainfall which is 41 inches of rain per year in Delaware. Data from Newark, Dover, and Georgetown show above average rainfall in May of 2018, with 5 to 6 inches in Newark and Dover, but a whopping 10 inches in Georgetown that month. Planting and plant growth was delayed due to cold and wet soils. Temperatures increased in June and July, with rainfall amounts above average. Delaware averaged 47 rainy days out of 100 over the summer months. A dry period occurred in early July, but temperatures were very high during that time. Total rainfall through September 17, 2018 was 40 inches for Newark, 42 inches for Dover, and 43 inches for Georgetown (these values are above our yearly totals!). Storms have resulted in higher rainfall totals slightly to our west. For example, the Fair Hill, MD weather station reported a total of 47 inches of rain to date. With 3 months to go in 2018, soils are very saturated. Saturated soils lead to poor root development and plant health problems, especially with newly transplanted trees and shrubs. Low lying and wet areas are prone to root rot. Trees in saturated soils with poor root systems may fall over with strong wind gusts. Remove dead or damaged trees near homes and buildings. Repair mower tracks in lawns (photo to the right). Make sure sprinklers are not running on automatic timers if ground is already saturated.
NFG 9/18/2018

The recent storm in the mid-Atlantic affected landscapes differently, but here are some tips from the lawn and garden experts in UD Cooperative Extension that you can take to repair your landscape.
Leaves – Most of the leaves remaining on trees prior to the storm are now down on the ground.  Leaves should be removed from lawn areas so turf can continue to receive sun and grow.  Rake, blow, mow or use a leaf vacuum to remove leaves and place them in the compost pile, a nearby landscape bed or the vegetable garden.  Leaves are a great source of nutrients and organic matter.  They are a resource you don’t want to leave your property.
Branches – Branches that have fallen can be picked up, used for firewood or chipped.  If a branch fell off a tree and left a ragged edge to the remaining limb, try to cut that limb off following the principles of natural target pruning—cut outside the branch collar (swollen area at the base of the branch) so you don’t injure trunk tissue.  Do not wrap or paint over cut areas, they will heal better if exposed to air. If the limb is too large or too high for you to handle, hire an insured tree company to clean up the damage.
Fallen Trees – If you have a chain saw, you can start sawing up fallen trees, once they have dried out.  But, in many cases it is better to hire an insured arborist (see below) to deal with fallen trees.
Damaged plants – Try to return shrubs bent over by winds to an upright position and secure them if soil remains saturated. Plants that were damaged due to limbs falling on them can be reshaped with some judicious pruning.  Any limb that is partially broken should be completely removed with a fresh cut outside the branch collar.  Do not wrap or paint over cut areas, they will heal better if exposed to air. Check out our pruning and maintenance page on the Lawn and Garden area of the website.
Water – Roots may be damaged by standing water and saturated soils, making them more susceptible to root rot fungi.  Keep in mind that it may take a while for soil to dry, and for new root development to occur.  Do not fertilize during this recovery period. Excess water puddling throughout your landscape will drain away eventually.  Just hope for a few sunny days!
Gardeners in the beach areas that may experience salt water intrusion on existing lawns should irrigate with fresh water to move the salt through the soil profile down below the root zone of the plants affected.  Good drainage is important for this to work.   If you are worried that the salt levels are too high for good plant growth, a soil test from UD’s Soil Testing Program can be done to determine soluble salt levels.
Our experts do not offer site visits to assess storm damage.  We do encourage homeowners to contact a local, certified, insured arborist.  We recommend looking on the  International Society of Arboriculture website or visit the Delaware Nursery and Landscape Association’s website for a list of landscapers.  You might want to also want to check with the Delaware Forest Service for additional tree resources.
For general gardening or landscaping questions that might be answered over the phone, call one of our county garden helplines.


SATURATED SOIL can lead to problems with roots of trees and shrubs, and ultimately contribute to death or uprooting of trees. When soil becomes saturated through over-watering or heavy rains, plants cannot develop new fine feeder roots that are responsible for uptake of nutrients. A good root system also anchors a plant well into the planting site. Development of a good root system can take time, and over-watering can prevent root growth and establishment. Plants with an under-developed root system are more prone to stress and root disease. Subsequent stress from drought that may occur later in the season can lead to death of plants that do not have a good root system. Trees and shrubs without a good root system are more prone to upheaval and toppling during storms with wind. Proper planting and soil preparation with good drainage may prevent problems in the future.

Saturated soil can also lead to problems in row crops, field crops, vegetables and turf. Good drainage can help  to avoid problems with root rot that may move in following flooding and saturated soil.

Flooding in a corn field
Flooding in a corn field - image courtesy of Daren Mueller