Severe storms can uproot trees, leave branches strewn across your yard, and threaten the structural integrity of your home. While not all tree-related storm damage can be prevented, homeowners do have options that protect their trees and the buildings on their property.
In this blog, we cover the most common types of storm damage and some of the methods homeowners can use to decrease the risk of storm damage to their trees and storm damage caused by their trees.
Understand the Common Types of Storm Damage
Storms can damage trees in a number of different ways. The most common types of storm damage are as follows:
- Blow-over. The tree leans heavily to one side or topples over completely.
- Crown twist. Pressure on an asymmetrical treetop causes branches to split or warp.
- Branch failure. Branches break away from the tree trunk, falling to the ground or becoming trapped in the foliage.
- Root failure. Roots fail to anchor into the soil correctly, which may contribute to a potential blow-over.
The type of damage that occurs during a specific storm may depend on the type of tree in question, the condition of the tree, and the severity of the storm. For example, twisted crowns are most likely to happen in gale force winds, while root failure happens most often due to torrential rain.
Preventing Tree-Related Storm Damage
In most cases, preventing storm damage requires consistent effort that begins as soon as a tree is planted. The following measures can diminish the risk of tree-related storm damage.
Consult With an Arborist
When you look out into your yard, you may see a few landscaping changes you want to make. When a professional arborist looks at your yard, he or she can easily identify trees that could sustain or cause serious damage in storm conditions.
As you make a plan to prevent storm damage, consult with an arborist to ensure that your plan is as efficient and complete as possible.
Grow Stronger Trees
If you have young trees on your property, one of the best ways to protect them is to expose them to the local wind environment. Minimize any support system you create so that the tree trunk and roots grow strong enough to easily support the adult tree.
Always remove any needed stakes or supports at the correct time. Leaving these systems in place for too long can stunt the tree’s development and cause weaknesses in the tree trunk.
Keep Trees As Healthy As Possible
When you live in an area with plenty of precipitation, you may leave some of the watering of your trees to Mother Nature. However, regardless of how your trees look at a distance, it’s important to keep tabs on their health and respond whenever an issue arises.
Mulch and water as recommended for each species to keep individual trees and the soil around them healthy. This step helps prevent decay and soil cracking, both of which can lead to uprooting and breakage during storm conditions.
Plant Native Tree Species
When you add to your landscape, plant native tree species as often as possible. These species are better suited to the weather conditions found in your area so they can stay stronger and healthier without as much effort.
Trees native to Illinois include:
As you add new trees to your property, follow all planting recommendations to give your trees the best start possible.
Prune Trees Appropriately
While it’s fairly rare for trees to become upended in routine storms, weak branches can fall off and hit your home due to normal wind conditions. One of the most effective ways to prevent branch loss is to prune your trees.
Cut away any defective or dead branches. If possible, prune these weaker branches before they become more than two inches around.
Additionally, keep the crown of each tree well balanced and eliminate forked branches.
Remove Any Hazardous Trees
Trees that qualify as hazardous need to be removed before storm season or they could fall. You may need to consider removal if the tree exhibits any of the following:
- Cracks in the trunk, especially vertical cracks
- Dangerously close proximity to power lines or your home
- Decay affecting more than half of the tree
- Deep hollows or holes
- Leaning trunks, especially if the leaning has exposed roots on one side
- Numerous dead branches, especially if the branches have a large diameter
- Pervasive trunk rot, mushrooms, or other fungi
If you suspect that a tree has become hazardous, address your concerns with a professional arborist when he or she evaluates your property. Some conditions, such as common tree diseases, can be corrected with proper care, while others necessitate immediate removal.
As you prepare your home for the next storm season, take these precautions and any others recommended by a professional arborist to protect your property.