Breezing Through Yard and Garden Damage - Indiana Yard and Garden - Purdue Consumer Horticulture

Breezing Through Yard and Garden Damage

Recent high winds will no doubt have left their calling card on our yards and gardens. Considering sustained winds of 20-30 mph and gusts up to 40 mph, it’s really quite astonishing that there wasn’t more widespread severe damage.

In most windstorms, the trees hardest hit are weak-wooded species, such as silver maples, Siberian elms, river birch and willows. Some trees may have had previously unknown internal decay that resulted in large sections of the tree falling apart under high winds.

The trees that lost dead and weak branches may require a bit of “triage” assessment. Of course, the highest priority is to address trees that pose a danger to people or property. If limbs are split or irregularly broken, try to make a clean cut of an otherwise jagged wound so that the tree’s natural development of callus tissue can eventually cover.

It’s best to prune out affected branches by cutting back to a side bud or branch. For small, low-growing branches, it is relative easy to remove them from the tree, especially if you have appropriate tools. Hand sheers are used on branches up to one-quarter inch in diameter. Lopping sheers are used on branches up to 1.5 inches in diameter. Pruning saws are used on branches more than 1 inch thick. See Purdue publication HO-4, online at, for more information and illustrations of proper pruning techniques.

For larger limbs, or those that are too far out of reach, consider hiring an arborist. If trees are severely damaged, complete removal of the tree might be best. DO NOT attempt to prune trees yourself where power lines are involved. See Purdue publication FNR-13,, for more information on hiring an arborist.

Leaves and flower petals of shrubs, trees, and other garden plants may appear burned, particularly around the edges. But what remains to be seen is the damage to young, expanding foliage and flower buds. Though the soils had abundant moisture, plants were likely to lose moisture to the high winds much faster than they could take it up from the soil. The result could be a drying out around the margins of leaves and petals. This may take several days to weeks to become apparent.

As the season progresses, young expanding foliage buds on some of the later species such as oak may open to reveal tattered leaves. Examples of oak tatters can be found at Oak tatters may also be related to other factors, such as herbicide injury and insect damage. Not much can be done other than to minimize further stress to the plants as much as possible. The trees will usually grow additional foliage.

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