Trees in the Boston area took a tremendous beating during the March’s Nor’easter storms that combined strong winds and wet snow. Many trees toppled over and the trunks of other trees snapped, leaving whole trees on the ground. Trees blocked roads, damaged buildings, and pulled down power lines. In addition, branches, large and small, broke from standing trees and created woody tangles on the ground. At times like these, trees seem like an annoyance, and we forget the many benefits that they provide us, such as shade, windbreaks, and wildlife habitat.
While most of the woody debris has now been cleared away, evidence of the storm is readily apparent in the fresh scars on tree trunks where branches broke off, and in the cracked and broken branches remaining in the treetops. In the forests, piles of branches and trunks remain on the ground creating a danger of summer forest fires.
According to climate change models, New England will have more frequent nor’easter storms in coming decades. To minimize damage to trees and property, a trained arborist should periodically inspect trees. Trees may need to be pruned or removed if they have spreading branches that are vulnerable to breaking, are towering over houses, driveways, and powerlines, are leaning, have obvious defects in their trunks, or have signs of sickness, such as many dead branches in their canopies. This type of preventative work will help protect trees in cites and around our homes, and reduce the costs of expensive cleanup if the trees fall or break during a storm.