Jessica Damiano Jessica Damiano, Newsday columnist

Jessica Damiano is a master gardener and journalist with more than 25 years experience in radio, television, print and online media. She has worked on Newsday's interactive endeavors since 1994, and currently is Deputy Editor overseeing's Lifestyle and Entertainment coverage. Jessica enjoys toiling in her garden -- a never-finished work in progress -- and helping local gardeners solve their horticultural problems in her Garden Detective column, which appears every Sunday in Newsday. Her Garden Detective column and blog have been awarded Press Club of Long Island Society of Professional Journalists Awards. Jessica lives in Glen Head, NY, with her husband John, daughters Justine and Julia, dogs Maddie and Miguel, and a whole bunch of perennials, vegetable plants and weeds. Ask a question Show More

Despite the best of care, sooner or later, all trees and shrubs will die. As living things, they do have a life span and will succumb to it eventually. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should immediately reach for the chain saw or call in a service to dig them out by their roots.

Dick and Jill Kissel of Amityville got creative after the two grown arborvitaes that flanked their front porch perished in a watery 4-foot salty deluge during Superstorm Sandy.

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The 6-foot-tall specimens turned brown and crunchy, which would be enough to make most gardeners throw in their trowel. But the Kissels wanted to improve their vista as quickly as possible.

Their first move was to snip off all the thin branches, leaving only the trees’ thick, main limbs. Then Jill suggested planting ivy and clematis under the skeletal remains, and in just a year, the couple had a pair of trellises brimming with blooms. What’s more, the inclusion of ivy provides year-round interest after the flowers fade.

“All dead trees and bushes need not be cut down and yanked out,” Dick Kissel said. “They can provide a framework for future horticultural enjoyment.”