How to Treat Storm-Damaged Trees

In most parts of the country, wintertime means storm season. A blizzard, a thunderstorm, a major windstorm, or just a heavy rain can damage your home and your property.
 
Trees are no exception. Heavy winds, heavy rain, and heavy snow or sleet can break branches or even tear whole trees apart. After a big storm, it’s important to check the trees on your property for damage. Here are some tips on how to best take care of your trees as soon as possible.
 
The first thing is to check your trees for vulnerability before the storm. Look for decayed branches or root systems, or limbs that are already damaged. Good pruning and tree care can fix these problems before the bad weather arrives, helping your trees to survive in better shape.
 
When checking your trees for storm damage, be careful. Storm-damaged trees can be dangerous. Broken but still marginally attached limbs can fall if disturbed, or in extreme cases the tree itself can fall. Storm damage makes trees unstable. Consider hiring tree trimming professionals to examine your trees safely.
 
Severely damaged trees will need to be removed and replaced, but trees with minor damage usually recover with a little care. The first step in after-storm tree care, then, is to assess whether a damaged tree can be saved or needs to be removed. A tree with exposed roots or that has been lifted out of the soil is probably one that should be removed.
 
Look for major limbs that are cracked or broken. These should be removed immediately and the cut treated with sealant. Make collar cuts rather than flush cuts, and remove any debris left from the pruning to eliminate risks of tripping or fire.
 
After removing lost-cause trees and damaged branches, the best thing to do is wait. Let the trees regrow, and then prune them of conflicting branches. It’s best to stick to your fertilizing schedule and not fertilize your trees right after a storm. The fertilizer won’t help them regrow faster and over-fertilizing can pose hazards to your trees in itself.
 
Certified arborists can assess your trees for severe damage and safely do the work that needs doing after the storm is over, and that’s certainly a time to consider calling them in. Trees are designed by nature to endure storm damage and recover, but your trees may need some help in getting back to the shape you want.