Broken & Uprooted

Melting reveals damaged plants

As the snow finally melts across the D.C. region, homeowners are starting to see the damage to trees and plants, caused by February's back-to-back blizzards. With sagging and broken branches, many are due for a landscaping fix.

The trees in the Washington area lack the flinty toughness necessary to handle the record snowfall, experts said.

"If we had these storms on a regular basis, as [the trees] grew as a sapling, they would develop what's called reaction wood ... and it would hold some of that weight capacity of the snow," said John Thomas, of the D.C. Urban Forestry Administration.

As the ground continues to dampen, homeowners could see more toppling and uprooting of trees.

"When you've got a lot of moisture in the soil, you've got wind pushing over the top of the trees, and then in urban areas particularly, you've got a limited rooting area ... Those things combine, unfortunately, to make very good conditions for uprooting," said Mike Galvin of Casey Trees.

Some homeowners might be tempted to dig out their still-buried shrubs and bushes, but experts said that's not the best response.

"The metal of the shovel can actually damage the plant and cause more problems," said Bill Teel, of American Plant.

Experts said the best thing to do is wait for things to melt a little more before you head out to prune or tie things back up.

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