Advice for dealing with bent or broken trees

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With the record-breaking, heavy snow this winter, trees across the Northland have been damaged. Many yards and sidewalks have bent or broken trees, leaving quite the post-winter clean-up. The responsibility for a damaged tree depends on where the stump is based. 

If the stump of a tree is on city property, it is the city’s responsibility (WDIO).

“It’s really the origin of the tree. Where is that stump growing from? So if it’s growing from the right away interior yard or over your yard, then it is city responsibility,” explained City of Duluth Forester Clark Christenson. “But if that stump originates on your property or your neighbor’s property, it would be yours or your neighbor’s tree to deal with.”

Just because a tree is bent does not mean it needs to be removed entirely.

Some bent trees may be able to spring back up (WDIO).

“If it’s a young tree, say, under three or four inches in diameter, I would give it some time. Certain trees, birch and especially will spring back,” said Christenson. “Some species won’t. Some might need some helping. if it’s a bigger tree and it has, it’s bending towards the ground in a significant way, then yeah, you probably need to do something. You know, calling an arborist would be a good first step.” 

Proper tree maintenance can reduce the risk of damaged trees in future storms. 

“Pruning that tree and pruning it properly. That’s something that homeowners can do when the tree is young. I would recommend a little bit of training there because you can damage the tree, But certainly as it grows taller, it becomes more of a much more monumental task to complete,” said Christenson. “So again, I would call an arborist to prune those trees and make sure that structurally they’re growing in a way that will allow the tree to withstand a heavy snow load.”

If a tree is the city’s responsibility and has become a problem, damage can be reported on the City of Duluth website.

Large trees with extensive damage may need to be removed professionally (WDIO).