What To Do After a Storm
Historically, College Park has had storms that have impacted trees. Several of which, like the 2001 tornado, Hurricane Isabel in 2003, Hurricane Irene in 2011, a derecho in 2012, and the recent microburst on July 12, have especially impacted many of our City's trees. After this most recent storm, you may be asking, “what should homeowners with trees on their property do after a storm?”
Here's a quick guide from the City's Tree and Landscape Board to help with that question. The first thing homeowners should do is hire a Maryland licensed, ISA certified arborist to inspect trees for damage. A certified arborist is knowledgeable in the care and maintenance of trees. This inspection of deciduous trees can be in the late fall when the leaves are off. An arborist should be consulted if there are signs of declining health or insect damage to trees, and they can assess how to prune the trees to allow wind to flow through the branches which should lessen the chance of tree damage or a tree falling during high wind events. They should be contacted for pruning trees or branches that the homeowner cannot reach or feel comfortable pruning or are growing into electric lines.
If a tree needs pruning or is recommended for removal, the homeowner should apply for a permit. The application can be found on the Department of Public Works Guide to Trees webpage or, a printed copy is available at the Department of Public Works.
Homeowners are strongly encouraged to replace removed trees that are under thirty-six inches in diameter which don’t require a permit (per the College Park Tree Ordinance). Homeowners are required to replace trees over thirty-six inches in diameter (again, per the Tree Ordinance). One tree should be planted for any tree removal that is thirty-six to forty-seven inches in diameter, and two trees should be planted for any tree removal that is more than forty-eight inches in diameter. Trees must be replaced within one year.
Homeowners can apply to the Tree Canopy Enhancement Program (TCEP) for $150.00 per replacement tree. They can also apply for Prince George’s County’s rain check program for a rebate of $150.00 per native tree. In addition, homeowners should print out the State of Maryland’s $25.00 coupon for native trees. Replacement cost for trees can be alleviated by the use of these programs.
When replanting trees, homeowners should consider what tree species is best for the soil type present on the property, the expected tree height and canopy width, proximity to the house, and proximity to the driveway and other non-pervious structures. Consideration should also be made for above and below-ground utilities; call Miss Utility before planting. Native trees should be planted to support the biodiversity of Maryland. The City of College Park and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources websites have lists of trees native to Maryland that can be referenced in selecting a tree.
An important but potentially overlooked contributor to tree damage or branch loss is vines. Common vines found in the City that can damage trees are: english ivy, mile a minute, poison ivy, porcelain berry, non-native wisteria, non-native grapes, and virginia creeper. Homeowners should wear leather gloves and use sharp hand clippers to cut the vines around the base of the tree and remove any vines within six feet of the tree. Pull young mile-a-minute vines early in the season and do not allow them to go to seed. Gloves and protective clothing should be worn when pulling poison ivy because urushiol oil in the leaves and stems can cause an itchy allergic rash. Do not burn to control poison ivy because the urushiol oil can enter the lungs via the smoke.
City of College Park homeowners are encouraged to contact the City Arborist at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about the tree ordinance and TCEP program.
From the City's Tree and Landscape Board