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News Review
Taking Care of Our Trees
Posted Date: 10/2/2017

About our Tree Canopy

• Total Number of Trees in Coral Gables: 38,000;
• Tree Inventory: GIS-based software: coralgables.mytreekeeper.com;
• Diseased Trees Removed Since 2015: 964 (including 75 Ficus Benjamina trees);
• Tree Succession Project: 2,806 Oaks/Mahogany trees and palms have been planted since 2015;
• Ficus Benjamina/Black Olive Trees: The City no longer plants these trees on City right-of-ways;
• City Staff: Coral Gables has six tree crews working six days a week (October-July), three arborists and one landscape architect taking care of our tree canopy;
• County Trees (not managed by Coral Gables): In Coral Way, Old Cutler Rd., LeJeune Rd., Ingraham Hwy., Maynada St., Blue Rd., Sunset Rd. & Davis Rd. (SW 80th St.)

What can residents do to help save a tree that has fallen over?

Watering a fallen tree and protecting it from further damage are the most important things to do to help save a City tree.

Taking Care of Your Trees Post-Storm

(Sources: Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com/living/home-garden/article173399206.html

University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences: http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/lafayetteco/2017/09/15/storm-damage-palm-trees-care-storm/

Arbor Day Foundation: https://www.arborday.org/media/stormRecovery/first-aid.cfm)

If your tree was damaged by Hurricane Irma, there are a few things you can do to help save it. Here are some tips:

  • Cover the roots to keep them moist until you can work on them.
  • Prune the root system to get it back in the ground. Dig out soil beneath exposed roots, but don’t break all the roots.
  • Right the tree, then stake it, keeping the stakes in place for at least six months.
  • Water every day for two to four weeks (less is OK if it rains). Keep root area moist for several months.

Pruning trees

Pruning is key to preserving trees after the storm. You should prune them on a regular basis.

  • Examine trees for injuries and cracks in the trunk and major limbs. Remove the rest of the tree if more than half the canopy is gone or badly damaged.
  • Prune an equal amount of canopy so the tree doesn’t struggle to keep its leaves hydrated while trying to grow new roots. Leave 20 to 50 percent of a mango tree’s leaves, and it will bounce back. Avocado trees also respond well to pruning.
  • Use a chain saw or pruning saw to clean jagged ends.
  • Do not use pruning paint; it seals the fungi inside.
  • For large broken branches, prune them to where the branch forks if the bark is intact.
  • If you cut a big branch down to the trunk, save the branch collar (the raised area from which the branch emerges).

Signs of trees in danger

• Dead branches or branches barely hanging by a thread
• Insect infestations
• Hollowing inside the tree
• Leaking sap
• Cracks in the lower trunk or large stems split from the tree
• Severed or broken roots
• Noticeable tree lean after a storm

Taking Care of Palm Trees

It is important to understand how palm trees grow. The growing point of a palm is the palm bud or palm heart, which is located at the top of the trunk surrounded by leaf bases. All new leaves come from this bud. If the bud is severely damaged, new leaves fail to develop and palm will eventually die.

Unless the palm trunk is broken or it is otherwise obvious that the bud has been damaged, there is no way to predict which palms will survive wind damage. Certain palm species are more tolerant of high winds than others. This includes the native sabal palm and royal palm, both survive high winds, but in very different ways. While sabal palms lose very few leaves, royal palms shed most of their leaves.

• It takes 6 months or more before it is apparent that a palm will recover. Recovery consists of new leaves emerging from the bud. In some cases, the new leaves will not look normal. However, over time, each emerging leaf should appear a little more normal than the one before. It is recommended to monitor damage over the following two years. Sometimes problems occur before storms, but are not noticed until after a storm when close inspection of the palm trees is taking place. The challenge is determining which problems existed before and which are caused by the storm.
• Broken Palms – if the trunk of a single-stemmed palm is broken, it should be cut at the base and removed. If possible, the stump should be removed or ground up.
• Uprooted Palms – Palms should be stood upright as soon as possible and replanted at the same depth at which they were planted previously. Bracing is necessary and should be kept in place for at least 6 months.
• Leaf Removal– If the broken leaves are still green, it is recommended to leave the attached. If only a few leaves are broken, then removing only these leaves may be acceptable.
• Fertilization– For palms that are not uprooted, maintain the same fertilization program that was in place prior to the storm. Replanted palms need to exhibit new growth before fertilizer is applied to the root zone.
• Fungicides– The only chemical pesticides that may have an effect on both fungi and bacteria are copper-based fungicides which should be applied as a drench to the bud (only if the bud is damaged), not the soil. All fungicides must be used in accordance with the label. Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Agriculture Agent to learn about pesticides and their applications. It is best to reserve fungicide use for those palms that are highly valuable or severely damaged.
• Yellow New Leaves Immediately After the Storm– Most commonly seen on royal palms, it has been observed on other palms as well. New sprouting leafs, known as the spear leaf, are unopened and stands upright. In a windstorm, these leaves can be forced open prematurely and the leaf turns the color of a mature palm leaf. If the bud is not damaged, the palm will produce a new canopy. It will take a year or more for the entire canopy to be replaced.
• Soluble Salts in the Soil– If the landscape has been flooded with salt water, the evaporated salt can cause serious injury to many species of palm. If a significant rainfall doesn’t occur after the flood recedes, it may help to heavily leach the soil around palms with fresh water as soon as possible.