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Drought decline, experts warn of falling tree hazards ahead of hurricane season

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BATON ROUGE, LA -- Experts warn that this season brings added importance to maintaining, trimming or even removing trees around your property. The reasons can be traced back to last summer. 

A significant, near record breaking drought left the Capital Area with less than half the average summer rainfall at just 7.27 inches. Scott Courtright of Louisiana Tree Service said that a lot of trees are dying off as a result. 

"So, the three trees that we're seeing a lot of stress with right now, a lot of mortality, the highest mortality, would be oaks, magnolias, and pines," said Courtright. 

There are obvious signs of a dead tree. If there aren’t any leaves, it should be considered for removal. However, just seeing the tips of the trees without leaves is a sign of duress and it is unlikely the tree will recover. Other warning signs that mark a tree as a candidate to be taken down include: increasing numbers of branches falling through the years, termite trails and hypoxylon canker--a fungus that causes the bark to slough off.  

Routine maintenance is extremely important to nursing the trees that survived back to full health. Hallie Dozier of the Louisiana State University Ag Center said that those two keys are watering and mulching. She said mulch could be an easy resource to come by given the number of trees being taken down right now that removal companies would otherwise have to pay to put in a landfill. 

"Even fresh, coarse chips on your soil under the tree is just, it's a thousand-fold better than just having turf, or nothing," said Dozier. "If you don't have soaker hoses, and you don't want to take that route, you can just put your hose on a very low volume, and just let it drip. Ideally you want to get down to about we're about six inches are moist," she added. 


View the full interview with Dozier, RIGHT HERE


Dozier said that a strong, healthy tree should not scare you, even if it is near your home. She advised that unnecessary tree removal is a bad thing for people and the environment. Plus, you will avoid a tremendous expense. Removal is a major, pricey operation, but Courtright reminds that it could be a life-saving step.

"If you're a property owner, and you own that property, you own that tree and you own the benefits for that. In other words, you can sit under and have a picnic and shade and enjoy the squirrels and things that enjoy that tree. Likewise, if it's dead, you also own that liability. That's the problem, that people don't really understand is that if I have this risk factor, it's my job as the property owner to get rid of that risk, and turning your head and saying, whatever, you could be liable for that if the tree fell and hurt or killed somebody or hit a car or house, you're going to be liable for that," said Courtright. 


View the full interview with Courtright, RIGHT HERE


Both Courtright and Dozier remind how important it is to use a certified, licensed arborist and tree service. Dozier also told WBRZ that doing so might help you avoid a common pruning practice that many tree owners are often fooled into purchasing.  

Lion's tailing is a procedure which cleans out the canopy of a tree for the purposes of styling and shaping the tree and allowing more light to pass through. This type of trimming is harmful to trees because interior foliage is how a tree feeds itself. Photosynthesis stops at very warm temperatures, often met on summer afternoons in the southern United States. Exterior leaves stop working, but protected interior leaves can continue to take care of the tree. 

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