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Austin-area tree trimmers dealing with downed trees, limbs

The owner of Austin Tree Experts explained what you should do if you see a downed tree.

AUSTIN, Texas — Many Central Texans are cleaning up downed trees and limbs after last week's winter storms. 

If you have a damaged tree near your home, Austin Tree Experts says you should take photos of it now and send those to professionals who can help look at the damage and decide what to do from there. 

"We need to be able to see what's around the tree," said Keith Brown, the owner of Austin Tree Experts. "Really, the three things to look for [are] a close up of the damage that occurred, a photo that can show the entirety – the tree's canopy in one frame – and then a third one that shows the, the proximity of the landscape around it."

He added that when it comes to the calls he received, he doesn't think it was busy relative to other storms in the past.

"I think for our native trees, the cold weather is not necessarily an issue, but the build-up of ice and snow is more of a problem," he said. "Certainly, the storm generated some concern, like there was people who had broken limbs. And we got a variety of calls ranging from, 'There's broken limbs on our roof and we need help' to 'I had a small branch that fell out of my tree and I just need somebody to help me assess it and find out if it's a problem we're dealing with or I just need to haul a branch away and move down the road.'"  

Credit: Luis de Leon
A broken tree in North Austin.

The Texas A&M Forest Service has a page on its website that offers tips on how to know if you're able to save a damaged tree following a storm. 

KVUE also spoke to Laurel Treviño, the outreach program coordinator for the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Texas. She said while it is important to call an arborist to deal with fallen tree limbs that may damage your property, it's also important to hold off on moving debris if it's out of the way.

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"If any other debris, either tree trunks or large branches or even brush that is down and is not causing any damage or threat to anything, I'd say leave it for now," she said. "The ground is very, very moist. It's muddy in many areas. And you don't want to be walking over, trotting over areas that you might compact the soil in, especially. You don't want to be working with wheelbarrows or mowers or heavy machinery, which will compact soil very easily when it's muddy like it is now."

The reason for that is to protect pollinators, like bees, who are nesting in the ground. 

"The reason you don't want to do that is because it damages the fine root hairs of plants, but also it can damage or prevent the young native bees from coming out of their nests in the spring," Treviño said. "Most of our native bees in North America are ground nesters, so we don't want to damage that soil. We don't want to compact it. So, if you can leave things for now, let the soil dry out and then start cleaning up."

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