Do you have snowstorm-damaged bushes? Here's what to do
The recent spring snowstorm has wreaked havoc on many upright and columnar arborvitaes and junipers.
Under a heavy snow load, multistemmed arborvitaes are vulnerable to bent branches, causing the inner branches to snap in the middle or at their base, and in some scenarios it can bend the entire plant. Repairing a damaged arborvitae involves some experience and lot of patience to restore the plant back to its original structure. Here are some common tips to repair a damaged multistemmed and upright arborvitae.
Bent branches can be tied together using prolock straps or any flat straps. Depending on the height of the plant, tie the branches together at multiple intervals for strong support. Don’t leave the straps for more than two seasons as it can girdle the bark over time.
Young and leaning arborvitae or junipers can be straightened by fastening their central leader to a stake using a wide canvas strap. Leave the tree staked for at least an entire season. However, if the tree is flattened to the ground, it may have substantial damage at its base and can’t be straightened.
If the central leader of the upright arborvitae tree has broken branches with torn bark, either top the leader beneath the damaged bark or it may be best to remove the entire tree. Topped arborvitae can be unsightly in appearance, vulnerable to more snow load damage and can take a long time to develop a new leader to fill the void.
Branches snapped at their base should be carefully pruned beneath the damaged area. A clean, sharp cut is necessary for the tree to seal its wound faster. The tree may take a while to fill the void spot. If more than half the tree has broken branches at its base, then it is best to remove the entire tree.
Broken branches with torn bark should be examined carefully before you attempt to prune them. Any hasty pruning can further tear the bark and can cause irreparable damage. Branches with torn bark are highly vulnerable to decay issues and it can weaken the structural stability of the branch. It’s best to remove those damaged branches or to prune beneath the damaged tissue. Seek professional help to prune those torn branches.
Vijai Pandian is horticultural agent/educator for Brown County University of Wisconsin-Extension. For questions and advice, contact the Extension's Horticulture Help Desk at 920-391-4615 or firstname.lastname@example.org.