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Storm Damaged Texas Trees = Property Value Adjustment

GARLAND (CBSDFW.COM) - Homeowners across North Texas are still picking up from this week's storms. But as they start to clear debris they might get hit again, but this time the damage is aimed at their pocketbook.

Any realtor will tell you mature trees add tremendous value to homes. But unlike roofs or windows, they take decades to replace.

Cherri Childers lost trees in this week's storms. "I love trees," she said. "It just adds a nice comfort."

Now Childers has lost that comfort and the cooling shade.  The summer storm brought down or damaged three of the family's huge trees. One of her Bradford Pear trees has been stripped to the trunk -- another in the backyard was snapped. And the top and most of the branches are now gone from her Cedar Elm. "It was pretty devastating. It takes years for trees to grow like this. With the prospect of us maybe wanting to sell in the next few years, it's going to decrease our property value I'm sure."

Realtor Christopher Ohlig's words were of no comfort. "They're completely irreplaceable," he said. Ohlig prefers to say that trees add value and not talk about the depreciation aspect. But he admitted." We're looking at anywhere from 10-20 percent."

Ohlig said it's a matter of availability and cost comparison. "If someone pulls up to two houses that are identical in layout and age and everything about them and one has 30-year-old oak trees and the other one doesn't have any, that house is going to sell extremely quick, compared to the one without them."

As for repairing or replace damaged or down trees, experts say there are no quick fixes. All that's left for homeowners now is to learn how to protect the trees they still have standing.

"The best way to protect your trees is make sure you're watering properly," Preservation Tree Service owner Harold Spiegel explained.

Arborists say trees have been weakened by years of drought. They recommend homeowners make sure the root flare is exposed, so the tree can take in nutrients. Make sure the trees are properly pruned, so the branches remain balanced. Don't rely on sprinklers to keep trees adequately watered; hand watering or using a soaker hose is good.

"You can go out, take a screwdriver and poke it in the ground and see if it's wet to a depth of six to eight inches," Spiegel recommended, adding that the ground would "…not be soaking wet, but good and moist. Don't just short period water."

Spiegel also cautioned against planting shrubs and flowers around the base of trees. He said they cover the root flare and hinder the intake of nutrients.

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