Tree Maintenance

Careful tree selection, proper placement and regular maintenance vastly decrease the financial repercussions of tree damage after hurricanes and storms.

Inspect for Hazards

Nearby buildings and structures are at high risk when a sickly or poorly pruned tree loses a limb, uproots or whips into wires. To avoid the possibility of personal injury and/or property damage, please inspect have your grounds personnel or a professional tree-care service inspect trees for safety issues.

Look for hanging or loosely attached branches and split trunks. Remove hazardous branches first. If a branch is broken but firmly attached and not in danger of falling, prune the branch (see more about pruning below). If a trunk is split down the middle, it may need to either be braced or removed. Consult with a professional tree-care service or arborist. Remember: never remove limbs that have electrical wires running through them; call your electricity provider instead.

Hiring an Arborist

An arborist is a tree specialist with the ability to care for a tree, remove it when necessary and perform emergency services after a storm. When hiring an aborist, make sure the person or company is licensed and insured for property damage, personal liability and workers’ compensation. Ask for a contract that includes an indemnification and hold harmless clause to protect the parish/school from claims resulting from the contractor’s negligence.

Obtain a Certificate of Insurance that names the parish/school, Pastor, the Archdiocese of Boston and Cardinal Sean O’Malley, a Corporate Sole, as additional insured. Keep the certificate of insurance on file. If you have any questions regarding the contract, please contact Fran O’Connor, Assistant General Counsel, at telephone: 617-746-5680, email: francis_o’

Pruning Trees

Pruning is the tree equivalent of a doctor’s visit: cleaning out dead branches and cutting back limbs to encourage growth. For flowering trees, prune upon completion of budding. For other types of trees, prune in the winter (usually in late winter or early spring) while the root system is dormant.

In order to minimize damage to the tree, be sure to use proper pruning method. Prune the inside branches to thin out a tree; avoid cutting off the top branches to reduce height (topping) and never cut random lateral branches to restrict width (tipping). Keep all tools sanitized to prevent the spread of disease. Focus on removing dead or dying branches and thinning out thick areas to facilitate air flow.

Trees that are too large to handle from the ground should be pruned by a professional tree-care service or an arborist.

Please note: the decision to cut down a try should not be made lightly and should be considered only after an attempt is made to save the tree, and after a second opinion is obtained from a certified tree specialist.

Know Your Trees

It helps to know which trees on your property are sturdy and which are more likely to be damaged in storms. For example, willows and poplars are softer and more likely to be injured.

Property Insurance

Each year we receive numerous calls to report downed trees following a severe storm. It is important to keep in mind that property insurance coverage does not extend to the removal of downed trees in the open. The only time coverage may be available for downed tree removal is when the tree actually falls and causes damage to a covered structure such as a rectory, school or church building.

Removing downed or compromised trees can be quite costly. Therefore, a comprehensive tree care plan can help reduce your organization’s exposure to an uninsured expense.

Advance Planning: Selecting and Planting a Tree

If you plan to plant trees on your property, consider a tree species that grows well in the type of soil, shade and water levels on the property. Look for a strong tree with healthy leaves, good foliage color, well-attached bark and a single trunk. Trees prone to certain insects or fungal infections need expensive products to stay healthy. Fast-growing trees require more care because of their weak limbs and trunks. Consider the shape and size of the mature tree, since a tree’s structure determines its ability to withstand wind and ice storms.

Things to avoid when planting a tree*:

  • Planting large trees under utility lines.
  • Blocking traffic signs or views at corners.
  • Planting trees or shrubs too close to ground transformers.
  • Planting large trees (taller than 20 feet) too close to buildings.
  • Blocking windows or desirable views.
  • Planting where roots will damage pavement.
  • Spacing trees too closely or shading gardens.
  • Encroaching on your neighbor’s property.

Other Resources

The International Society of Aboriculture maintains a website with information on tree maintenance, as well as a directory for finding an arborist.

The Massachusetts Arborist Association (MAA) is a great resource for finding a certified arborist to visit your facility, inspect your trees and give a qualified assessment. Telephone: 508-653-3320.

For a quick reference guide, download our Tree Maintenance Guidelines.

*Source: Native Tree Growing Guide for Louisiana, LSU AgCenter Publication 2926,

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