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What do we do about trees now?

By By OLIN F. FARRIOR County Extension Agent
I have received a number of calls lately relating to the types of trees to plant in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan. The natural tendency, in our traumatized state, is to want to cut all the trees in the vicinity of your home.
This may be overkill. We are dealing with the fresh impressions of trees lying on our lawns, houses, cars or our neighbor's homes, lawns and cars.
However, in a University of Florida survey conducted in the panhandle of Florida immediately after Hurricanes Erin and Opal, significant damage to homes was caused by less than two percent of the fallen trees. There was also a great deal of difference between the susceptibility of trees species. The prudent advice is to plant wind resistant trees in areas close to homes.
The Florida survey indicated that some wind resistant species include Live Oak, Southern Magnolia, Laurel Oak and Red Maple.
The worst of the trees included Loblolly Pine and Water Oak. My observations in Escambia County after Hurricane Ivan are consistent with these lists. So, if you still have hurricane susceptible trees near structures, you may want to remove them.
However, the trees in Escambia County are a part of the beauty. So we need to plant to replace our fallen trees with well-placed and carefully selected trees.
People frequently ask me for suggestions on fast growing shade trees. There is a trade off on wind resistance and growth rate.
In a University of Georgia publication, Fast Growing Shade Trees, very desirable trees included, Bald Cypress, Japanese Zelkova, Red Maple, Sawtooth Oak and Willow Oak. The publications rated Boxelder, Bradford Pear, Popcorn tree and Mimosa as poor choices. When selecting and planting tress the side and placement is very important.
The publication goes on to outline some tips on site analysis and selection.
Many Escambia County residents are concerned with helping the trees they have left to recover. They want to know how to prune trees, or at least to know evaluate contractors who offer pruning services, and they want to know how to help trees to recover.
I have found two publications that should be helpful with learning more about pruning trees and helping trees to recover from stress.
If you would like a copy of any of these publications, call or come by the County Extension Office. Our phone number is 867-7760 and we are located behind the Southern Pine Electric Coop. on Hwy. 31 south of Brewton.