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Carpenter Costin Blog

The Effect of Storms on Your Trees

Trees are such an integral part of our world. We name streets after them, lounge under their shade, swing from them in our youth, and eat fruit from them. Even part of the quintessential American dream is to live on a quaint tree lined street. 


storm damage on your trees

Trees however need to be protected from nature’s elements like strong winds and storms that can batter our Massachusetts coastline. 

From hurricanes in the summer and fall to nor’easters in the winter months, New England is known for the storms that can wreak havoc on our area. Trees can be especially vulnerable to the storms experienced rather regularly. 

Let’s take a look at how storms can impact trees and some precautions homeowners can take to protect these essential parts of our ecosystem. 

Tree Uprooting 

One of the more common sights after a strong storm has blown through our state, is to see trees that have toppled, ripping the roots right up from the ground. 

Most trees can handle a normal amount of flexing in the wind. Sadly, trees that have root damage due to pests, nearby construction, a shallow root structure, or an unestablished root system such as those found in newly planted trees. 

These root issues usually go unanswered and don’t cause a major problem until a strong wind from a storm puts too much stress on the roots. 

Think of a tree like a sailboat. The top leaves and full canopy of a tree act in a similar way to a sail on a sailboat. They catch the wind and cause the object (either a boat or a tree) to move and sway with the wind. Unfortunately, trees can not move themselves to where the wind directs them to go, like a sailboat can. Instead, if the wind is too strong and the root system too weak, the tree could topple and land on your home, car, or across a street. 

Having an arborist inspect your mature trees regularly can help determine the health of your root system and the tree itself. 

arborists can help evaluate trees

Limb Breakage 

Another common type of injury that can occur during New England storms is limb breakage. This can happen high in the canopy and lower, near the trunk. 

Decaying wood from fungal infections, pest infestations, or damage caused by a human improperly pruning, can create a scenario where branches can break under the stress of a storm. 

Concern about where a large, heavy limb may land is a primary concern especially if the tree is near any structures like a garage, shed, or your home. What should also worry homeowners is the weakening and vulnerability of the tree to further pest invasions and fungal growth due to the limb breakage. 

Structural Damage 

Depending upon the strength of the storm that blows through our region, homeowners may aso worry about structural damage that may impact a tree. Having an arborist inspect your trees before and after a big storm might be a good idea, especially if any of your trees are already showing signs of structural vulnerability such as leaning to one side or improper and excessive pruning making a tree look like it may have more weight on one side than the other. 


6 Common Signs of Tree Damage

The smell of spring is in the air. The crocuses are poking their heads out of the soil. Daffodils are making an appearance in long dormant flower beds. And trees are showing their buds with the promise of blooming any day now. The signs of spring are all around us!

Unfortunately, along with these hopeful signs come some signs of tree damage suffered through the winter or due to disease or pests. Are your trees sending you a sign they are damaged? 

All is not lost if your tree is showing some signs that it is sick. Our arborists can evaluate your trees and determine if the tree can be saved through pruning, treatment, cabling or bracing. Read on to find out what signs you should be looking for this spring as you start to get outside to enjoy this beautiful weather.  

#1 Dead Branches 

As you are evaluating the trees on your property, you may find that some of them have branches that appear to be dead wood. While many trees have dead branches, especially in the spring, it is important to take care of these since wind storms could cause them to fall and damage homes or property. 

Since fewer branches means less nutrients needed, a tree that is shedding its branches is a survival method. Have an arborist examine your trees that are showing signs of dead branches to evaluate its health and what steps can be taken to maintain healthy growth. 

#2 A Discernible Lean to One Side 

Some trees naturally grow at an angle due to the surrounding environment. Sadly, some trees develop a tilt due to weakness or structural issues with the roots. If you notice a tree in your yard that has a questionable tilt, contact our team to evaluate the health of the tree and determine if it needs removal or some TLC. 

#3 Visible Signs of Pests 

As you evaluate your property this spring, pay close attention to trees that may have an overabundance of beetles or ants that are on the bark or leaves. Pests tend to flock to dead, weakened, or dying wood to set up their colonies or nests. While every tree is bound to have some ants or beetles crawling around, look for damage caused by these pests that could indicate the health of the tree is struggling. 

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#4 Visible Signs of Fungal Growth 

Growth of fungus can look a little different on every tree. Look for discoloration on the leaves, wilting, or scabs on the bark. There could also be mushrooms growing at the base of the tree or even on the tree itself. 

#5 Exposed Roots & Root Damage

Determining root damage is not always an easy task as roots are not often visible. If your tree has a shallow or partially exposed root system, it is possible that it can suffer damage from every day actions such as mowing the grass, lawn care, and even foot traffic. Common signs of root damage include: dead branches, poor yearly growth, and wilting leaves during the growing season. 

#6 Bark Issues 

When a tree is diseased or dying it can show signs that it is vulnerable. Loose bark, missing bark, cracks in the bark, and cankers all signal a problem within the tree. Each of these conditions can weaken a tree and cause a potentially dangerous situation during the next wind storm. 

Winter Damage: How to Get Your Landscape on The Road To Recovery

As we all try to put this long, harsh winter behind us, our landscapes may not be on the top of the home repair and improvement priority list. It is important to note, however, that without professional assessment and care right now, your landscape may not be able to properly recover from damage caused by the heavy snow load this year. In addition to winter damage, we are also expecting a heavy winter moth infestation this spring due to the pro-longed snow cover. Severe storm damage coupled with defoliation from winter moth caterpillars can stress and potentially kill your plants. Thankfully, there are some measures you can take to prevent this while keeping in mind the overall health and aesthetics of your property.

Address & Correct Issues Early in the Year

It is important that any damaged plants on your property be addressed early this year, as it will be a quick and condensed growing season due to the extended winter. Diagnosing structural issues and correcting damaged plants early will not only give them a better chance of survival, but will also mean less long-term maintenance for your property in general. Correcting these structural issues is an important part of any plants life cycle and recovery process, as this kind of pruning makes them safer, healthier, and less likely to fail in future weather events.

Broken tree limbs and crushed scrubs will be common due to the heavy snow load this winter.

Fertilize to Increase Vigor

In addition to proper corrective pruning, it is important to understand that damaged plants are in a state of stress even after proper assessment and pruning has been performed. It is imperative that you fertilize in order to help regain your plant’s vitality and increase vigor. Since New England soils are typically depleted of important nutrients to begin with, organic fertilizer is a great answer for stressed and damaged plants, and is just what they need after a long winter season in order to recover effectively.

Protect from Insects

The next step towards recovery is to protect your plants from any further damage from prevalent insects, particularly the winter moth caterpillar. Winter moth caterpillar treatments are safe and effective, and can be the deciding factor when it comes to keeping your susceptible plants alive. Storm damaged and stressed plants are weak, making them more vulnerable to insect/disease infestations and ultimately defoliation. Severe defoliation from the winter moth caterpillar can certainly stress and kill plants.

The key to recovering and maintaining your property is an early plant health evaluation, in order to create a customized approach that best suits the plants that are specific to your property. Reviewing your property early in the season will result in a more aesthetically pleasing space to enjoy the warmer weather, a safer environment for family and friends, and will help protect and maintain the property that you’ve invested in.

Take advantage of a free consultation to learn more about a professional and environmentally-responsible approach to getting your property on the road to recovery for the spring and summer months. Click below or call us at 781-598-1924.

Request a Free Consultation

Hurricane Arthur Batters North Shore - How To Deal with the Aftermath

How to protect your trees in severe weather!


We've received dozens of calls this weekend from people with storm damaged trees. Our crews have been taking trees off houses, driveways, wires and yards, and removing broken branches from trees. We've also had a number of calls about uprooted trees in Swampscott, Marblehead, Lynn, Lynnfield, Andover, North Andover, Revere, Winthrop, Boxford and Reading.

Recent year’s severe weather events such as the ice storm of ’08, Halloween storm of ’10, Hurricane Sandy ’12 and other unnamed storms have damaged trees across the North Shore of Boston. Trees catch the wind like sails and branches hold snow and ice; overextended limbs are most likely to break in wind, snow, and ice events. Storms can cause other types of failure as well: root plate failure, soil failure, sliding I-Beam failure, insect and disease failure, and lightening strikes!

And unfortunately, insurance may not cover trees that are not threatening life or property!

What you shouldn’t do!

DO NOT go near a tree that has become unsafe with broken limbs or uprooting

DO NOT cut an uprooted tree, the roots may be under tension still and when weight is removed from the crown (leafy portion or the tree) the tree can stand back up!

DO NOT attempt to free up broken limbs, what may look small from the ground can be very large…and heavy!

What can you do?

Like anything else, preventative maintenance is easiest…and cheaper!

Healthy trees are generally safe, so stay on top of:

  • IPM and fertilization
  • Crown reduction and thinning reduces sail volume and over extended limbs
  • Cabling helps support larger limbs

Contact one of our certified arborists to learn how to keep your trees healthy or to help with storm damage clean-up!

Request a Free Consultation


Storm Clean Up of Local Trees

High Winds Causing Damage To Trees in Massachusetts

Recent high winds have caused many trees to fall or to be severely damaged in our area. Carpenter Costin crews have been called on to remove trees from houses, driveways and yards.  Have an Arborist evaluate your trees for structural damage such as cracked branches and leaders.

Inspect Your Trees For Damages

A Certified Arborist is the best person to inspect your trees for hazardous or dangerous branches, or damage caused by wind, freezing and thawing temperatures, structural weakness or snow load. Certified Arborists can educate and guide you, not just in emergency winter situations, but in the care and maintenance of all of your trees and shrubs throughout all seasons.

What it Means To Be An Arborist

Massachusetts Certified Arborists and those certified by the International Society of Arboriculture are individuals who have achieved a level of knowledge in the art and science of tree care, through formal education, at least three years of experience and have passed a comprehensive examination. They are also required to continue their education in order to maintain their certification, ensuring their knowledge is updated on the latest arboriculture techniques.

Certified Arborists, years ago called tree surgeons, are trained to ­­­:

  • Recognize safety issues and make recommendations regarding structural problems in trees, such as weak branch unions, dangerous leaders, and other potentially hazardous concerns.
  • Evaluate the overall health of your trees and shrubs
  • Diagnose insect or disease problems and advise on treatment strategies
  • Avoid taking down trees that can be salvaged

Consulting with a Certified Arborist will give you the assurance that your trees are safe and healthy. 

For a complimentary evaluation of your trees and shrubs by a Certified Arborist, please give us a call at (877)308-8733.

Carpenter Costin's 10% Winter Discount on Tree Work From Dec. 1st through March 31st

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Cabling and Bracing to Preserve Trees and Prevent Damage

Take advantage of tree cabling and bracing solutions to prevent damage caused by splitting tree limbs and leaders.

Do you have a tree on your property that you absolutely love for one reason or another, but splitting treefear a splitting limb may fall and cause damage – thus persuading you to remove the tree? Before jumping to the removal conclusion, consider cabling and bracing as a way of saving your beloved tree.

Cabling and bracing is a tree care technique that consists of bolting and cabling trees and tree limbs to ensure they do not split and break off. Depending on the caliper of the tree, a large bolt can be installed through a tree, helping to secure and mitigate a split in a tree. By using a complex series of ropes, an Arborist can actually pull the tree together, closing the gap where the tree is splitting, and insert a bolt to hold it there. Over time, the tree will actually grow over the nuts and bolts utilized, effectively hiding any sign of the bolt in the tree, yet still maintaining the bolt’s purpose as a support.

Utilization of bolts is only one form of bracing – the other aspect involves the installation of cables within the crown of the tree to help hold the numerous leaders and limbs together. When installed properly, cables will distribute the weight of the cabled limbs evenly, limiting the stress on the limbs and preventing splitting and damage. Cabling is a great way to prevent storm damage, and is effective on all trees, from small ornamental trees to large shade trees.

Tree cabling and bracing is a great way to preserve a tree you love; however, not all trees can be saved. Be sure to have a Certified Arborist inspect any tree that shows signs of structural weakness. If a tree can be saved with cabling and bracing, a qualified Arborist who cares about trees will certainly recommend it. If you have any questions about your trees, take advantage of a free consultation with a Certified Arborist.


bolting tree

After closing the splitting gap with a series of ropes, drill through the tree and insert a bolt to keep the gap closed.

installing cable in tree

Installing a cable in the tree. Notice the red rope that has been used to pull the leaders together before installing the cable.

tree cabling and bracing before and after

Before and after shot of the bracing process. Notice the gap is significantly smaller, and the bolt is preventing it from splitting any more.

Fallen Trees, Storm Damage, and Insurance Coverage

As a follow up to our article, Is it Legal to Trim a Neighbor's Tree?, we’d like to provide some information on insurance expectations, should you encounter the unfortunate event of structural damage caused by fallen trees. For the record, no one at Carpenter Costin claims to be an insurance expert - we’re just hoping to provide some useful information.

Various storms hit New England every season, and with every storm comes the possibility of fallen trees and structural damage. Knowing what to expect before a catastrophe happens willfallen tree and insurance help you through the process of getting the fallen tree off the structure, and working to get the damage repaired as quickly as possible.

In a previous article we discussed who is legally responsible for tree care when a tree lies on or near a property line. This article; however, focuses on the insurance companies and the role they play when you encounter fallen trees and storm damage.

Your Tree, Your House

Let’s start with a tree on your property. Should the tree fall and land on your house, your homeowners insurance should cover the expense to take the tree off the house, and then any necessary repairs to the structure. What homeowners insurance does not always cover is the cost to clean up fallen tree debris that didn’t land on the house, or the disposal of the tree that did land on the house. It is common that the insurance will cover the cost to get the fallen tree or branches off the structure, but the actual removal of the tree from the property is not covered.

Your Tree, Your Neighbor's House

If this same tree on your property were to fall the opposite way and land on a neighbor’s structure, the neighbor’s homeowners insurance will likely cover the cost for their client, but then go after your insurance company and seek reimbursement. This should be a process handled by the insurance companies, limiting the headaches that it causes you, as the homeowner. If the tree were to fall due to negligence, not a storm, it is likely that your insurance would be getting the bill to start, as you must reasonably inspect and maintain the trees on your property.

Structure/Property Other Than a House

Homeowners insurance may also cover other structures on the property, such as sheds or garages, but the value of theses structures may be much less, and you should expect different services than you get with your living quarters. Also, you can expect that any damage to an automobile caused by fallen trees and branches will be handled through your automobile insurance, not homeowners insurance, even if the car was parked at home.

Hopefully this information will act as a guide should you experience storm damage from fallen trees. We recommend a free consultation with an Arborist in both the spring and the fall to ensure your property and all of its trees are as safe and structurally sound as can be.


fallen tree damage

If you are faced with an unfortunate storm damage experience, having a basic understanding of insurance expectations will help you through the process.

**disclaimer – no one at Carpenter Costin is an insurance expert/agent, or claims to be an insurance expert/agent. Insurance policies vary greatly from home to home. This is meant solely to serve as a guide for homeowners encountering troubles with fallen trees.

Checking Shade Trees for Safety this Fall

Make certain your shade trees are safe before winter Nor’easters and snow storms come rolling in.

After a relatively mild year in terms of storms, New England is bound to receive a handful of threatening storms this fall and winter – in both the Nor’easter and blizzard variety. Theseshade tree evaluation storms, which usually pack a powerful punch of high wind, driving rain, or heavy snow, can cause serious damage to our large shade trees. Evaluating shade trees for structural integrity in the early fall will help to mitigate any risks associated with broken branches or fallen trees during fall and winter storms.

Even if you are not an Arborist, there are certain elements to look for that allude to structural damage in a shade tree.

Trunk and Root Area

Look around the base of your shade trees first. Is the ground cluttered with broken branches? Excessive broken branches could indicate structural damage. If there aren’t many broken limbs, then check to see if the roots are being disturbed by a nearby structure, driveway, or street. Damaged root zones can cause serious stress, leading to structural damage through the entire tree. Lastly, check for rotting around the trunk.

Middle of the Tree

The most common issues to look out for here are rotting and splitting. It is common to have splitting where large leaders break off from the main trunk. This can sometimes be remedied by installing cables; however, without added support, it is likely the split leader will fall during a storm.

Crown Area

This is the area that requires you to look up. It is often difficult to see while a tree still has full foliage, but it is imperative to do your best, as hanging limbs in a tree’s crown can cause damage to property and serious injury. Look for “hangers” or “widowmakers” and seek advisory from a Certified Arborist immediately if you notice any.

Running through the above indicators will let you know if you have structural damage in any of your shade trees. These are only the very obvious indicators - there are many other factors that will only be noticed by a trained Certified Arborist. We recommend a safety evaluation every fall to ensure your shade trees are structurally sound, and ready for whatever the fall and winter will bring us. Click below for a free 15 minute consultation.

safety evaluation for shade trees

Early snow fall (like last October) can damage trees that aren't structurally sound. Have an Arborist out for a free evaluation for safety sake!

Avoiding Winter Storm Damage

Prepare Your Trees for Winter Storms

Despite the relatively warm temperatures we've experienced thus far, winter can still be a nasty threat to your landscape. With gusting winds upwards of 50 mph in the summer or fall, winter storms can be just as dangerous as their warm weather counterparts. Your trees need to be inspected before the winter to ensure the safety of your house, yard and family. 

Our local evergreen trees are great storm survivors - they have been enduring storms in the North East for centuries. Unfortunately, even evergreen trees can fall victim to winter storms. Though the needle-like foliage of our evergreens is very wind resistant, they are susceptible to damage due to storms and a variety of other factors.

It is a good idea to have a Certified Arborist out to inspect your trees each year in an attempt to prevent any storm damage. A qualified professional can spot weaknesses in tree structure and prune to prevent future damage. Tree pruning can be the difference between suffering storm damage, and having healthy, attractive trees year round. Pruning out potential damage will prevent any limbs from falling during winter storms, and also improves air flow within the tree, reducing the threat of pest infestation and uprooting.

If you've had limbs fall from your evergreens or deciduous trees before or even dead limbs in your tree, it is recommended that you have an Arborist come out to inspect it. Limbs falling during winter storms, even if they are small, can indicate internal damage. If you wait too long, the next Nor'Easter could cause some serious storm damage to your property or home.

Request a free consultation with one of our Certified Arborists. It is completely cost and obligation free, and could be the difference between winter storm damage, and healthy looking trees next spring. In addition, we offer 10% off of winter tree services.


Tree Damage 4Tree Damage 3

The Storm Damage Dilemma

Judging by the amount of trees and limbs that are still scattered across the lawns in our region, many home owners are having a difficult time deciding whether to have an Arborist out to clean up storm damage; or finding it difficult to find the time to clean it up themselves.

Unplanned tree service can put a real damper on your mood. Scheduled yearly pruning is warranted, and removal of that old unsafe tree is anticipated; but when a storm rolls into town and causes tree damage, home owners should be very discouraged. I recently spoke with a friend from the Hartford, CT area who had to change his weekend snowmobiling plans in order to clean up the fallen trees. Let me tell you, he was not too pleased.

Cleaning up after a storm does not have to be a laborious experience, draining all of your precious weekend time. Our efficient tree crews can clean up fallen branches and trees quickly, and remove the remains of the damage, or cut the wood into firewood length to be split and burned in your stove or fireplace. Cleaning up storm damage yourself is often difficult due to towns' storm debris removal policies and the danger involved in doing so. Although we acknowledge the home owner who is skilled with a chainsaw, we do feel it is best left to professionals for safety reasons.

So if you're still pondering what to do with your storm damage we highly suggest giving us a call or chiming in on an online consultation form. Why waste what looks to be a pleasant weekend by spending your time hauling broken branches around, tying up brush, or trying to find out which neighbor borrowed your chainsaw last.

storm damage tree

This leader fell down the night of the Nor'Easter. Not nearly the worst damage I've seen, but this one was in my backyard!

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