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A Car ran Over My Tree!!! What Can I Do?

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tree care and maintenance
04 May

A Car ran Over My Tree!!! What Can I Do?


After you recover from the shock of seeing your beloved front yard tree broken down into splintered remnant of what it had been, so stately and beautiful, you probably do not have much hope.

Obviously, if you know the culprit, their insurance company should reimburse you for the current value of that tree and its replacement. If you are lucky enough to be able to garner the vandals contact information, I would proceed to the next step.

If it is a tree that is relatively the same thickness (diameter) from the ground going up several feet, measure the diameter (The distance across the center from side to side) of the tree at 6” above grade (ground). This measurement represents the “Caliper” size of the tree.

If it is a tree much larger than mentioned previously where the tree has a very wide flare at the very bottom of the tree (This is called the root flare), proceed to measure the trunk diameter approximately 4.5′-6′ up the trunk. This is called the DBH (Diameter at breast height) of the tree.

Either of these measurements will provide you with a basis on how to calculate your tree loss. There are many factors to consider in determining the value of your tree loss. If it is a new tree or one with only a few seasons of growth it should be relatively simple to determine the replacement cost. A tree with greater age and therefore size, will be more involved and you should meet with a qualified Arborist knowledgeable in valuing tree loss.

The following may prove helpful in your quest for restitution regarding your valuable tree…

But what if you are not fortunate enough to have been able to gain the contact information of the perpetrator or their insurance company? Will it be in your best interest to involve your insurance company?

Whether your tree was mowed down by an irresponsible driver or it developed a problem where the above ground portion is failing but the root zone is most likely still alive and viable, the following tips may result in you turning a pile of wood chips into a future stately treasure!

There is an old practice called “coppicing” where trees were pruned in order that the tree would develop new shoots for use many uses in centuries gone by.

Using this same philosophy today, we can utilize the damaged trees ability to regenerate top growth resulting in a new tree over time.

Please review the following links for more information on this subject.

Ideally, the disaster you have experienced will have occurred over the dormant (winter) season versus during the growing season itself. Not that you had much control understandably but with damage occurring during dormancy, the tree will come back to life in the spring “ready to grow but with no place to go” except to produce new shoots!

The first step will be to utilize a very sharp tree saw and cut the trunk down to grade (ground level) or no more than an inch or two above grade ideally. Make this cut at a slight angle in order to allow water to drain off the stump. Do not apply tree paint or other products to the cut trunk.

Now it will be up to Mother Nature to stimulate the tree into producing new stump sprouts or side suckers as many call them. Be sure to keep the damaged tree well watered. A light feeding may help in stimulating the new growth as well. Please note, that just is the case as when you and I are sick, you do not want to feed in excess. That contributes to a host of other issues. Practice moderation and all will go well!

Once your “stump” begins sending out sprouts and they measure between approximately 12”-24”, determine the most equally sized and spaced shoots. Typically, a multi-stemmed or clump form tree will have between 3-5 such eventual trunks. Prune off, or better yet twist off the undesirable suckers. Please see this link to see both styles of sucker removal…

Now that the tree has begun to regenerate new growth, continue proper feeding and watering to keep the new shoots growing their best. Once again, practice moderation in this area! Twice the amount is not always good!

Once the new shoots achieve a height of between approximately 3′-6′ (you will determine the height above grade (ground) you wish branching to begin) prune each shoot to within 1/8” or so of an outward facing bud or beginning branch. This will typically stimulate the cut area to begin producing multiple shoots near or at the cut. Virtually the same as your initial trunk cut.

With patience, your newly revitalized multi-stemmed tree will grow in to a fine specimen!

A trees only goal in its lifetime is to grow and attempt to reproduce. With this will to live so strong, provided the roots were alive and well, with only the top portion destroyed, your tree will do its best to do just that…”Survive and Flourish”.

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