Ice and snow storms often cause serious damage to trees and shrubs. Since trees, for example, can increase the value of a property as much as 20 percent, property owners should know that these losses can be recovered to some degree through tax deduction.
The allowable deducation is normally determined by the amount of loss suffered in property value, measured by the differences in the value immediately before and after the casualty, according to the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers (CTLA).
An attractive lawn and plantings not only add to the value of the property but also make a prospective buyer feel that the house has been well taken care of, according to a survey of 98 realtors.
After losses have occurred, the best evidence for establishing them, insofar as the Internal Revenue Service is concerned, is competent appraisal. The CTLA recommends use of qualified plant appraisers to estimate tree and plant value.
The IRS provides that the cost of repairs is acceptable as evidence of loss if the taxpayer can show the repairs were necessary, reasonable in amount, did not go beyond the actual damage suffered, and did not rise the property value above its level before the loss.
It's a good idea to take pictures of trees while they are alive and well. In case damage is claimed as a tax deduction, before and after pictures will help a lot as far as the IRS is concerned.
Even the shade your tree provides on your house, patio or other living areas is worth money you can claim as part of a casualty loss. A farmer in Tennessee was allowed a business loss by IRS when his cattle was deprived of the shade from trees destroyed in his pasture. Q: I was told that scale insects might be removed from house plants by application of gin. I'm here to pass on the word: it works! The only flaw is getting the gin. I'm an ordinary mild-looking little lady and accosting the liquor store fellows leaves me limp every time. What kind of gin, they ask? It's for my plants, I reply. They snicker. Shouldn't there be a company that bottles gin and marks it "Gin for Plants?" A: J.S. Koths, professor of floriculture at University of Connecticut, did some research and reported that adding alcohol to an insecticide is extremely effective. It is a very good wetting agent, or surfactant. It penetrates an insect's waxy protective coating and carries the pesticide into the insect's body. Ethanol (rubbing alcohol) is best to use, and cheaper than gin.
Note: Extreme caution should be used when applying insecticide with alcohol added, he says, because it may carry poisons into the human body as effectively as into an insect's. Q: We have had very little rain so far this winter. Is there any risk my trees and shrubs may be damaged? A: Dehydration is by far the most common type of winter injury to woody plants.Evaporation of moisture from leaves or twigs goes on almost continually but is much fater when the air temperature is above freezing. bright winter sunshine and brisk winds accelerate the process, and in the meantime stems, roots and soils may be solidly frozen and the tree or shrub is unable to replace lost moisture. The results of such drying are serious, particularly when there is little rainfall. It doesn't do much good to water when the ground is frozen. One way to help prevent winter injury is to fertilize them in late fall. Vigorous, well-fertilized trees will endure more dhydration and colder temperatures than trees that need fertilizer. Q: I'd like to grow some radishes in my greenhouse. Do you think it would be practical? A: Radishes are easy to grow. Sow the seeds at two-week intervals so you can have young ones coming along. They prefer a 45 degree night temperature. Q: What are naked pumpkin seeds and where can I get them? A: Lady Godiva (naked edible pumpkin seeds) have no hulls, are delicious raw or roasted. They are listed in most seed catalogs.