Editorial: Thirsty trees, weak trees

Winter officially begins in six weeks. In addition to the usual outdoor preparations, it’s a good idea to take a second look at the trees on your property.

As everyone knows, Connecticut has been experiencing a drought. And while people have seen their lawns and gardens need more water than usual this season, they may not be thinking about the trees on their property. And we have lots of trees in town.

According to Eversource, trees account for more than 40% of all power outages. They can also cause substantial damage to property if they fall or lose limbs. Even without their leaves, howling winter winds can bring down limbs and entire trees onto wires, roads and houses.

The drought likely has stressed trees that may have already been weakened by pest infestation or disease. It is no secret the emerald ash borer is already taking a toll on ash trees in town. Eversource warns this could lead to more trees and limbs coming down during winter snow and ice storms and is asking property owners to maintain their trees that are near power lines but outside the utility’s trim zone.

For trees and large shrubs near power lines, it’s best to call a qualified contractor, one who is licensed and insured and complies with all applicable laws, codes, ordinances, and permits.

Here are some safety tips:

  • Before starting any work, locate the power lines going to your meter and any that may run along the road.

  • Never attempt to trim any vegetation growing on or near overhead power lines.

  • Deadwood is a naturally occurring hazard on some species of trees. Conduct a thorough visual inspection of what is above you before starting seasonal chores like raking leaves and storing lawn furniture.

  • Hire an arborist to evaluate your property and offer professional advice and suggestions for maintaining your trees, as you would with any other professional tradesperson.

  • When Eversource responds to power outages during storms and adverse weather, the company performs tree work to clear the power lines so that service may be restored. Property owners should be sure to plan for the cleanup and removal of any fallen limbs or trees.

While a generator may keep you warm and toasty indoors during a power outage, tree maintenance is a must to prevent property damage and power outages in the first place. And should the drought continue, come spring, our trees may need real help.