Tree Care: When to Keep, Cut, and Remove

Summertime in our area tends to bring some strong storms, from quick-moving thunder dumpers to hurricanes. When strong winds are added to the equation, trees may be damaged.
When faced with tree damage, assess the situation and act accordingly.
The Keepers
If damage is relatively slight, prune any broken branches, repair torn bark or rough edges around wounds, and let the tree begin the process of wound repair. A mature shade tree can usually survive the loss of one major limb. The broken branch should be pruned back to the trunk. Young trees recover quickly. If the leader and structure for branching are intact, remove the broken branches so the tree can recover.
Wait and See
If a tree appears to be a borderline case, don’t simply cut it down. It’s best to give the tree some time. A final decision can be made later. Resist the temptation to prune too heavily. A healthy, mature tree can recover even when several major limbs are damaged. A professional arborist should assess damage on a borderline tree to safely remove branches.

Say Goodbye
Some trees simply can’t be saved or are not worth saving. If the tree has already been weakened by disease, if the trunk is split, or more than 50 percent of the crown is gone, the tree has lost its survival edge. Trees in this condition may be structurally unsound and are unlikely to recover. The tree should be removed by a tree care professional.
A qualified arborist or tree care company can help you decide how to best care for your trees or when a tree should be cut down. Use these guidelines to help you find an arborist or tree care company.
Who to Hire
•Check for membership in professional organizations, such as the International Society of Arboriculture, the Tree Care Industry Association or the American Society of Consulting Arborists.
•Look for companies that employ certified arborists.
•Ask for proof of insurance. This includes personal and property damage insurance, as well as worker’s compensation insurance.
•Beware of individuals who go door-to-door offering bargains.
What to do Before Hiring
•Get more than one estimate and do not always accept the lowest bid.
•Make sure you get everything in writing and read the contract carefully. Does the contract cover everything promised?
•Find out who is responsible for disposing of the entire tree, including limbs and debris. Will the stump be removed?

Get Your Rain Barrel on July 20

Rain barrels are black plastic containers that once held pickles, olives, peppers, or onions and have now been recycled to capture water runoff from your roof. Rain barrels are generally placed under your downspouts. Rain barrels hold approximately 50 gallons of water and are roughly 23 inches wide and range from 41.25 inches to 43.75 inches tall. The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District has periodic workshops and distribution events to encourage their use.
By installing a rain barrel at your home you will:
•Provide your plants with water they will love! Unlike treated water, which is “softened” with dissolved minerals, rain water is naturally soft. The water stored in your rain barrel is better than municipal water for washing your car and watering indoor or outdoor plants.
•Save money and water! Instead of water from the tap or faucet, you can use the water you’ve saved to keep your home landscape happy and growing. You’ll also reduce your municipal water bill.
•Protect the Chesapeake Bay! Water stored in your rain barrel won’t rush off into our streams. Instead, as you use the stored rain water around the home and garden, it will absorb slowly into the ground replenishing groundwater supplies. By decreasing the volume of storm runoff, rain barrels also help moderate stream erosion and the resulting pollution that is impairing the Chesapeake Bay.
A distribution event is currently scheduled for Saturday, July 20, 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. at Falls Church Property Yard, 7100 Gordons Rd., Falls Church.
The cost of a barrel at these events is $65. Online registration is handled by Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment (ACE) at:
If you don’t have room directly under your downspout, a diverter can be purchased from multiple locations:  

Contact Fairfax County: Phone, Email or Twitter | Main Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
Technical Questions: Web Administrator

ADA Accessibility | Website Accessibility
Awards | FOIA | Mobile | Using this Site | Web Disclaimer & Privacy Policy | Get Adobe Reader
Official site of the County of Fairfax, Virginia, © Copyright 2015

Website Feedback Website Feedback    Globe with various flags representing Web site language translations   Language Translations

Return to Graphic Version