Unlike us, our trees are forced to weather the storm, no matter how alarming. This leaves them vulnerable to electrifying strikes of lightening and vicious gusts of wind. Both of which can fall even the biggest, healthiest tree on your property, necessitating the need to care for storm damaged trees.
Taking the right steps in the aftermath of a storm can make the difference between giving your trees a good chance at survival and losing them prematurely. The Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service and the International Society of Arboriculture (for which we are a proud member of) provides the following tips for tree owners:
Inspect a Storm Damaged Tree
First and foremost, it’s a good idea to carefully walk around your trees after a storm, looking for signs of danger: hanging or broken branches, splits in tree branches, a broken or uneven canopy, decay, holes, insect infestations, and uprooted or leaning trees. If any of these conditions present themselves, it’s usually best to contact a professional arborist, who is skilled at providing care for storm damaged trees.
Take Necessary Safety Precautions
Your trees may not be the only thing affected by a recent storm. Be on the lookout for downed power lines, and low-voltage telephone or cable lines, as these are often electrically charged – making them extremely dangerous to go near. You should immediately report any downed utility lines to your local provider. Avoid walking under or within proximity to large hanging limbs or branches as well due to their fall risk.
Prune Small, Broken Branches
Pruning small, broken branches is a task most homeowners can do themselves, if no ladder work or climbing is required. If done properly, it will help minimize the risk of decay, and prevent wildlife or insects from calling your tree “home.” This is especially important given the fact your tree is already in a fragile state and needs time to heal. Prune broken limbs back to the point where they join a larger branch.
Don’t Top Your Tree
Do not top the tree! Cutting off the top of a tree can significantly alter its structure and leave it vulnerable to disease and/or infestation. If it’s determined that less than 50 percent of a tree’s canopy is damaged, it may be able to be saved, but only by contacting a professional. However, if more than 50 percent is damaged, the tree may be considered unsafe. In which case it would need to be removed.