How Do I Help My Cherrylaurel After Snow Damage?

Q: During the last snow storm, one of our cherrylaurel trees fell over. The weight pulled up half of the root ball but did not damage 75-80 percent of the roots. I used ropes and pulleys to bring it upright and covered the roots with new soil. To keep it upright, I attached three spring loaded cables. But now I see that some of the top leaves are turning brown. What can I do to help the tree recover?

A: My guess about the brown leaves is that there was enough damage to the root system when the tree fell to interrupt moisture going to the top of the tree. I predict you’ll continue to have brown leaves, particularly if the summer is dry. There is not much you can do to speed up root recovery. A light application of fertilizer in spring, plus water when the soil is dry and mulch to keep the soil cool, is the best you can do. Keep the cable support system in place for at least ten years. It will take that long for new anchor roots to grow. You might be better off to replace this tree with a new one in the same spot.