winter damage

Assessing Winter Damage in the Landscape

This time of year it’s very difficult to know for sure what kind of damage we have until green-up. While we are waiting, lets discuss a few plants you might want to keep your eye on. Read More...

Why is My Grass Dead Along the Sidewalk?

Based on our temperatures last winter, we expected to see quite a bit of winter kill, or at least spring dead spot (two different issues). While there are some localized areas that received damage, for the most part, the bermuda came through the winter just fine. One exception to this were areas adjacent to some sidewalks, streets, and driveways. Any guesses why? Read More...

The Ups and Downs of October Weather

Be prepared for the big swings in our fall weather, learn how those swings can affect our landscape plants, and learn what (if anything) we can do to minimize problems associated with those swings. Read More...

Cold and Dry Landscape Update

Payne County is now in the severe drought category. While you don’t hear much about drought in the winter, it is still a very important consideration for all plant material. While plants don’t need as much water now as they do in the summer, an adequate supply is just as important. Read More...

Winter Damage on Evergreens

As hard and fast as spring is coming on, it’s easy to forget we did have two brushes with with near zero temperatures this last winter. Those two events were enough to cause significant leaf browning and/or drop to several of our common evergreens trees and shrubs. Read More...

Why is my Bermudagrass Lawn Declining?

It will be a couple of weeks before we’ll know how much, if any, bermudagrass lawns suffered from winter injury this year as the off/on temperatures have things off to a slow start. However, this discussion is focused more on long term trends. In other words, has your bermudagrass lawn declined over the last few years for no apparent reason? Read More...

Winter Landscape Irrigation Tips

Now that winter has settled in, it’s easy to forget about our landscape until next spring. Or, at least it will be as soon as we get all our leaves under control! One task that should not be overlooked is the need to keep an eye on irrigation needs. Read More...

Ice Storm: Landscape Damage Assessment and Repair

Home Grown  by Keith Reed
If the weather forecasters are correct, we may be in the middle of a significant ice storm this weekend. Hopefully this will not the case, but if we are hit hard with accumulating ice, here are some tips that should help your landscape recover with the least possible damage.

Assuming you have an otherwise healthy tree or shrub, there is not much you can do to prevent ice damage from happening. It is best to simply let the process play out. Trying to be proactive and covering plants will end up causing more damage since the covering will catch and hold more ice than if the plants are left unprotected.

Once the storm is over and you begin to assess the situation, the first priority is to make absolutely sure no downed power lines are in the area. If there are, your landscape can wait; it’s just not worth the risk. Once it is safe to do so, it can be helpful to take photos of the plants that appear to be damaged. Photos can serve a couple of purposes. If you do have to call in a tree care professional, it may help them to know what the tree looked like at its worst since ice damage splits or ruptures can virtually disappear after the ice melts and the limb springs back into place.

Photos are also a great resource if you don’t need to hire a professional but are unsure how to proceed. Simply email them to the address below and we will offer suggestions on what actions need to be taken. Photos can also help you diagnose problems that come up in plants for a long time after the ice storm is forgotten.

Do not attempt to prune plants with the ice still on them. The additional weight increases the risk factor to you as well as the plants. It is difficult to get good clean saw or pruner cuts and we hope the risk of slipping or falling with pruning equipment in your hands speaks for itself.

Do not try to hurry the ice removal by shaking, broom whacking or other means. Once again, the extra weight makes the plant unstable and you are likely to cause more harm than good. Be patient and wait for the warmer temperatures to do the job.

Once you do begin pruning, try to follow the guidelines for proper pruning techniques. See OSU Fact Sheets HLA-6415 Training Young Shade and Ornamental Trees
(PDF/Mobile) and EPP-7323-Managing Storm Damaged Trees (PDF/Mobile) for guidance. Unfortunately, the harsh reality with severe storm damage is that sometimes it is impossible to leave a textbook, properly pruned, finished product. The damage will be too great. In those cases, do the best you can by making clean cuts on all breaks and open fractures. This will increase the plants odds of making a full recovery as a clean cut will heal quicker than a tear from a jagged break.

Watch the plant closely the next few years as additional pruning may be needed as heavily damaged trees will often tend to produce suckers near the damaged areas.

Best wishes. May this advice be something you do not need anytime soon.

For more information on this or any other horticultural topic, you can contact Keith Reed, the Horticulturist in the Payne County Extension office. Keith can be reached via email at keith.reed@okstate.edu, phone at 405-747-8320, or in person at the Payne County Extension office, located at 315 W. 6th in Stillwater.

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