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Can These Trees Be Saved?

Aug 23

Trees can become gnarled and twisted by a storm. Large limbs can be damaged or broken, and foliage may be shredded, stripped, or torn. Even though it may seem like a fatality, even minor injuries can be life-saving for trees. Storm damage is not fatal to trees.

Assess the Damage

Homeowners should ask the following questions before deeming a tree damaged as a "goner":

  • Is the tree healthy and strong, other than storm damage? First aid should be applied immediately after the storm to ensure that the tree is healthy and does not pose a danger.
  • Are broken major limbs possible? The tree will have a harder time recovering from damage if it has a large limb. The tree might not be able to survive if most of its main branches have been removed.
  • Is the leader, which is the main upward-trending tree on most trees, gone? If the leader is essential to the growth of a species or to a tree's appearance, it may be necessary to make a decision about saving the tree. Although the tree could survive without its leader it will most likely be stunted or severely deformed.
  • Are at least 50% of the tree's crown (branches, and leaves) still intact This is a good rule of thumb for tree survival. Trees with less than half their branches may not be able to produce enough foliage to sustain them through the next season.
  • What size are the wounds from branches being broken or bark being damaged? The tree is more likely to be attacked by pests and diseases if the wound is larger than the limb. For a 12-inch limb, a 2-inch to 3-inch wound will be sealed with new bark in a few years.
  • Are there any remaining branches that could form a new structure? As the tree attempts to replace its lost foliage, the remaining branches will grow stronger. Check to see if the branches can be used to fill in the tree's appearance.
  • Is it a suitable species for the location? If the tree is not in the right place (e.g., a tree that is too tall or near a power line), it may be a problem species. If the tree has suffered severe damage, it might be better to have it removed.

Make the decision

The answer to a specific tree's problem will generally fall under one of these three categories:

  1. It's a Keeper

    If the damage is not severe, you can prune the branches and repair any bark or rough edges. The tree will then begin to heal itself.

  2. Please Wait and See

    Avoid cutting down a tree that is not in good standing. It might be better to take a step back and reflect on the situation. Keep in mind that time is always on your side. Give the tree time to recover after carefully trimming out broken branches. You can make a final decision later. A Simple Call: The loss of one major branch can often be overcome by a mature shade tree. You should trim the broken branch back to its trunk. Large wounds must be monitored closely for decay signs in the months to come.

    Minor Damage Although the tree may have suffered damage, there might still be enough strong limbs to save it.

    Too Young To Die: Young trees are capable of taking a lot of damage but still recovering quickly. Remove the damaged limbs from the tree and ensure that the leader remains intact.

    It's easy. Resist the temptation to prune excessively. Keep in mind that the tree will need every ounce of foliage to survive the next growing season. Take out only the damaged limbs and wait to see what happens.

    Do not panic A healthy mature tree can still recover from damage caused by multiple limbs. A professional arborist should be called in for large trees to assess the damage and safely perform necessary pruning and branch removal.

  3. Say Goodbye

    Some trees are simply too dangerous to save or not worth saving. If the tree is already severely damaged by disease or the trunk has split, it is likely that the tree has lost its survival advantage. You shouldn't try to do it all by yourself: Some trees might have hidden damage or have too much damage to be called. To determine what to do if this is the case, you will need to hire a professional tree service. Hire only those who show up at your home after a storm. You can find qualified arborists by looking in the telephone book, or by calling your state or local forester.

    Tree Disaster: This otherwise healthy young tree has lost far too much of its crown, the leafy head that is essential for survival. It won't be able to grow enough branches or leaves to nourish its needs and it will not ever regain its beautiful former shape.

    Hopeless Case The only thing left of this tree's trunk is its trunk. The tree can't grow enough leaves from the few branches that remain to give it another season.

    Goodbye to a Friend A rotten trunk inner core or structural weakness in branching can lead to a split trunk, which is the tree's equivalent of having a heart attack. These wounds are too severe to heal and the tree has lost its sap line between roots and leaves. This tree is almost dead.