Cleaning up after the storm

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For the past three weeks, ever since The Big Blow (windstorm on night of November 30/December 1), I have received a multitude of offers to haul away the broken tree limbs from the front yard “for a very reasonable price.”  I declined them all, waiting for Jim Walker, his son Todd, and the hard working crew of Western Arborists to come to remove the dead limbs dangling in the avocado and deodar in the front yard. The debris was to be chipped, and the limbs cut into 18-24 inch segments. All material was to be left on site.

Two men climbed the deodar early in the morning, while one assisted from the ground. Although they took proper safety precautions I watched nervously as they used chain saws to cut large limbs tangled through out the tall, old tree.
Each limb was roped before being cut. After the chainsaw made its way through the limbs, they swung on the ropes and were lowered safely. It was amazing to watch.
Arrows point out two men working in tree.
For scale, notice yellow hard hat of workman on ground. Those guys were very, very high up.

After the men finished working on the deodar, they started on the avocado. This old tree had a lot of rot in it. When I saw the damage after the storm I thought it might have to be removed. We are going to see how it does and as it starts to grow new branches and fill in a bit, I will have some of the very tall limbs shortened. Avocados are not like many other trees, their structure can get quite messy since they are so brittle and large limbs frequently crack. Although the deodar is taller, the avocado is probably more dangerous to work in due to the instability of the limbs.

Arrows point out two men in the avocado tree.
You can see how extensive the damage to the avocado is.

The limbs that had fallen and those removed from the trees were then cut up and stacked beneath the trees. Branches and other debris were chipped and deposited beneath the avocado.

Chips being deposited beneath the avocado.
Chips being piled against the trunk of the avocado.
Clean up is mostly done.

My work began once the crew from Western Arborist was finished. A pile of mulch sitting on the root system and against the crown of a tree can spell trouble. In fact, I saw a young oak, about fifteen years old, die from just this cause. A pile of woodchips was left near the base of the tree. In a very short period of time the chips started to decompose and the pile got very hot. The roots were probably killed by the heat and the lack of oxygen.

This lovely oak died abruptly after it was heavily pruned and the chips were left in a pile against the trunk of the tree. I did not have the heart to photograph it afterwards. (June 2004)
Notice the knot right above the chips.
I removed most of the mulch the very next day and continued spreading it – directly on top of the lawn – so that it is no thicker than about 6 inches anywhere on the roots.
The excess mulch was piled on the walk next to the house. Now that it is off the tree, moving it to a better location is less urgent.

I have spent a few hours each day since last week spreading mulch and figuring out how to use the logs and branches that were too large to chip. Yet another section of the lawn, approximately 400 square feet, is history. More pictures to come!

2 thoughts on “Cleaning up after the storm

  1. Pamela

    Great series of photos with informative text. I always learn something new on your blog. Happy New Year!

  2. Wonderful post I'm sorry to see so much old growth tree damage from the high winds. I am in Southern California and fortunately I did not suffer much tree damage here at the ranch few downed limbs and lots of twigs.

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