How to Deal with Storm Damaged Trees
Storms can strike at any time and undermine the integrity of even the strongest trees. In the event that a tree you enjoy incurs storm damage, follow these steps to ensure your safety and help you decide what further decisions to make about removal.
1. Assess the damage. Trees with major damage are easy to spot. Fallen trees are easiest to identify. However, standing trees with other types of damage require careful inspection at a safe distance. Consider to be hazardous any tree that has both injury and an immediate target, such as part of your home, people, other buildings, or cars.
2. Seek professional help. When deciding which trees to remove, be sure to consult your local tree care specialists. Especially in the case of old or beloved trees, the decision to remove can be difficult. However, consider the following:
- If a large branch has been pulled out or split out of the tree, that branch should be removed.
- If more than 50 percent of the living branches in the crown of your tree have been broken or are missing, the tree should be removed.
- Leaning trees with evidence of recent root lifting, breakage or soil movement should be removed.
- Large cracks in trees, especially those affecting 50 percent or more of the main stem, indicate a tree that should be removed. Even trees with less damage that have preexisting decay or defects can pose future hazards. However, consult a tree care professional before making your final decision.
3. Don’t try to save or repair a partially dislodged branch or the fork of a tree that has split. However, this tree injury is not likely to heal and any attachment will be weak, particularly if decay sets in. In addition, you risk your personal safety and that of others by attempting tree repair on your own. Cabling or bracing, while usually not recommended, may be an option. However, this process should only be performed by a professional arborist on very valuable trees, and will require annual inspection.
4. Don’t panic and attempt to remove all of your living trees. The alternate side of trying to repair damaged trees yourself is seeing every tree as a threat. The value of trees to your property and home include aesthetic and environmental factors. Wait for a professional crew can come and assess potential damage.
5. Don’t be swayed by quick and cheap options. Your neighbor may offer to use his chainsaw to remove your hazardous limbs cheaply, but he may not have the tree care knowledge necessary to remove the dead limbs efficiently and with minimal damage to the tree and your yard. Wait for the professionals to arrive.
Storms can wreak havoc on even the strongest trees. With the tips above, you can process tree damage and manage cleanup safely, knowing that you did the right thing for your family and your trees.
Updated Jan. 20, 2017. Originally published Nov. 26, 2012.