We had storms blow through here last week. Blow is exactly what it did, I had an hours worth of work clearing trash and broken limbs from the lawn the following evening. One of the worst hit was the big Ash tree that’s close to our house in the backyard. I’ve had my eye on a few dead branches, and last night they all came down, along with a few of their friends who were very much not-dead. Ash, is a brittle hardwood that grows really tall. Why someone would plant one here on the windy plains, I don’t know. Worse, they planted it right next to where all the power and telephone lines come into the house. So, not only is this huge behemoth of a tree going to be taking pot shots at our power lines every time there’s high winds, I know there’s a decent chance of Emerald Ash Borer getting as far West as my backyard and making things even worse. I know I won’t be able to sell the wood outside of my county after it does fall. I know all of this because I know what kind of tree it is.
Always make sure you identify what trees are on your property, pay particular attention to those close enough to fall on a structure or block egress routes. If you need help, may I suggest About Forestry. I’ve used several of the tree identification tools on that site, with good results. Knowing the tree type can give you valuable insight into how that tree is likely to perform in any given disaster scenario. It can also allow you to make predictions about the tree’s life span, and make plans for it’s wood, (is it better for furniture making, barn building or burning?) By combining knowledge of the major flora on your property, with knowledge of the most common natural disasters in your area, you can plan ahead for likely points of failure. Some trees do better in floods than others, some trees will handle wind storms better than others (hint: ash is not one of these.)
It’s also good to know for other reasons. Maintenance of trees can be crucial to maintaining their health and longevity. Trees are often a valuable asset to a homestead, and it’s worth your time to be familiar with their needs. Oak trees were brought up last week, but did you know if you’re planting an oak tree you need to look into mycorrhizal fungi? Lots of trees have little things you can do to make them happier, and if you have trees that are contributing food, keeping them happy means maximum return for you.
If you’re thinking of adding trees to your homestead, knowing the maintenance needs before hand will help you avoid unpleasant surprises. You’ll also want to keep zone tolerance in mind. Something that will flourish in a coastal zone 5 might not be happy in a zone 4 or 3. By keeping these things in mind, you can find and plant a tree that will be perfect for your needs and homestead location. A tree that will likely provide returns for years to come.
– Calamity Jane