What to Do If Your Tree Is Badly Damaged in a Storm

12 March 2020
 Categories: , Blog


Trees are one of nature's greatest survivors. Given the right circumstances, a tree can survive hundreds or even thousands of years, like the 9,550 year-old spruce that scientists discovered in Sweden in 2008. Unfortunately, urban trees don't fare as well as their wilder cousins do.

In an urban setting, wind speeds are sometimes greater due to the abundance of buildings and other solid obstacles like fences, which channel wind into powerful wind tunnels. If your tree has lost a large portion of its canopy in a storm, it could die. But before you give up on your tree, work out just how bad the damage is.

Check to See If Enough Canopy Remains

A large tree has a lot of structure to feed and nourish. That's why large trees have large canopies with tens of thousands of leaves. All of those leaves are necessary for the tree to bring in enough carbon dioxide, water and energy from the sun to create food. Trees then use some of that food and store some of it in their roots for next season.

If a storm has destroyed more than 50 percent of your tree's canopy, it won't have enough leaves to take in sufficient food. It might then die next season if it doesn't have sufficient energy stored in its roots to replace those lost leaves and branches. If just about 50 percent of the canopy is missing, wait until next season. If the tree doesn't recover, consider removing it.

If well over 50 percent of the canopy is gone, your tree will probably die. Consider tree removal before next season because as the tree dies, it will become brittle and weak. If any more storms come through, its weakened structure could give way and damage your property, or worse, injure someone. Remove the tree before this happens.

Check for Severe Branch Injuries

If a smaller branch breaks midway, a tree service can simply remove the branch and leave a collar to promote swift healing. However, if a large branch has broken off, your tree might struggle to cope with this injury. Moreover, if any of the lost branches have torn away from the trunk and left a gaping hole, your tree will struggle to heal the damage. Insects and disease could take advantage.

In the case of severe damage to branches or the trunk, removal is the safest option. Don't wait for the tree to die. Not only will it become a falling hazard, but it will also attract pests like termites and carpenter ants, which will further weaken the tree's structure. However, minor damage should heal, perhaps with the help of an arborist or tree specialist.

If a storm has severely damaged your tree, remove it before it deteriorates to the point of becoming a serious safety hazard.