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Preventing Future Wind Damage to Tree

June 5, 2019
wind damage

It seems like we are in a relentless cycle of rain and thunderstorms this year, some of which have been severe enough to damage trees, homes, and what little crops we have in the ground. With plenty of summer ahead, and more thunderstorms a certainty, now is a great time to assess your trees to try and prevent damage they may cause in the future. Healthy trees are made to withstand many extreme weather events; however, they all have their limits when it comes to things such as ice and severe wind. Unhealthy trees however, are much more susceptible to the routine weather we deal with here in Indiana and should be checked frequently.

The main thing a homeowner can do for prevention is to examine the health of a tree and determine if it has any flaws that may make it susceptible to damage. Trees that are suffering from decay, previous injury, poor structure, or disease and insect infestation are most likely to be damaged during a weather event. Some things to look for that would indicate these problems would be: fungus growing at the base or on the trunk of a tree, large cavities in the tree, and an excessive amount of roots exposed above ground. Homeowners should also note the shape and architecture of a tree. Trees should be proportionate on all sides with an even canopy and should not be leaning to one side or the other.

The crown and branch structures of trees should also be checked regularly. Often times, branches that come off during a storm were already broken, diseased or dead and should be pruned out. Younger trees should be pruned early on to prevent improper development. Some things to keep an eye include the trees form, which means that trees should not have codominant stems competing to be the trees “leader,” as this will result in the tree splitting down the middle. Keep an eye out for branches that are rubbing up against each other which leads to injury. When pruning, cut out branches that have less than a 45° angle attachment to the trunk, as these are also likely to split.

Lastly, doing some of these jobs yourself, especially on larger trees, can be very risky, so please consider hiring a certified arborist. They can help you assess trees current health, determine courses of action, and perform the high risk jobs that are sometimes necessary with tree care. For further details, please refer to the following Purdue publications found online or contact me at the Purdue Extension Office of White County at: awestfal@purdue.edu or 219-984-5115:

* FNR-FAQ-12-W, Trees and Storms

* HO-4-W, Pruning Ornamental Trees and Shrubs

* FNR-FAQ-13-W, Why Hire an Arborist   

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