Garden News: Low-hanging branches also cause problems

Most of us are aware that dead limbs and branches, as well as weak trees themselves, pose a threat to roofs during hurricanes and other storms. But even low-hanging branches can cause problems.

Although low-hanging branches may not be touching the roof under normal conditions, the high winds of violent storms or hurricanes can cause trees to bend and branches to flail around considerably. These branches can cause extensive damage to the roof and generally should be removed, says LSU AgCenter tree expert Hallie Dozier.

“There’s a whole host of reasons for homeowners to maintain their trees near roofs,” she says. Along with damage from winds, branches that contact roofs can be troublesome in other ways.

“Roofs are built to shed water, but wet vegetation holds moisture,” Dozier says. “So wet leaves that remain on the roof can cause problems. You want the branches to provide shade but not be in contact with the roof.”

The longer you wait to remove a branch that could cause problems, the more effort and expense it will take to remove it.

“Branches never get higher, only bigger and heavier,” Dozier says.

Homeowners can prune their own small trees, but for larger trees, Dozier recommends calling an arborist licensed to do tree care in Louisiana. Tree parts are heavy and can do damage to people and property, she says.

“If you can’t reach a branch or limb without a ladder, you need an extension pole,” she says. “If you still can’t reach, get a professional — especially for larger branches. Never climb a ladder with a saw.”

Working around power lines can be particularly dangerous. Any power company in Louisiana will come to a location and turn off the power so a person can work around electrical lines safely. The homeowner and tree company can work together to set up a request in advance of the work.

If you need to contact an arborist, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry maintains a list of licensed tree-care professionals online at ldaf.state.la.us. Arborists are trained individuals who make a career of caring for the urban forest one tree at a time.

If you have gardening questions, send them to GardenNews@agcenter.lsu.edu.