Coping with Storm-damaged Trees - Indiana Yard and Garden - Purdue Consumer Horticulture

Coping with Storm-damaged Trees

Homeowners assessing tree damage caused by recent storms will want to make a few important decisions soon. Small trees with minor damage can probably be taken care of by the homeowner, but large, mature trees likely will need the help of a professional tree service.

It can be hard to decide whether trees with severe damage should be completely removed. Homeowners often are reluctant to cut down a tree, either because of sentimental attachment or because the tree provides shade or screening that won’t quickly be replaced.

But the first priority should be safety. Assess whether the tree itself or some of its branches are in danger of falling now or in the near future. If the tree is not an immediate danger, you may be able to plant a new tree nearby and wait for it to grow a bit before removing the old tree.

Just because a trunk is split does not necessarily mean the tree will die soon. Large, split branches or trunks that have not broken off the tree can be braced and possibly saved by an arborist. If limbs have fallen completely off the tree, there is nothing that can be done to save the branch. In either case, the wounded area in the tree will always be a weak spot that is susceptible to disease, rotting and insects.

For trees that just have a few damaged limbs, it is relatively easy to remove small, lower branches with loppers or a pruning saw. Use sharp pruning tools appropriate to the size of the job to ensure a clean, smooth cut. Use hand shears on branches up to one-quarter inch in diameter, loppers on branches up to one and a half inch in diameter, and a pruning saw on branches more than one inch thick.

While you’re at it, look for branches that have already broken free and may have left a jagged stump on the trunk. Make a cleaner cut on those branches to help the tree wound seal more easily.

For larger limbs, or those too far up for the owner to reach, hire an arborist or other professional service. They’ll have the appropriate tools and equipment to safely bring down large or high limbs so that tree, home or other nearby objects will not be damaged.

In general, pruning sealants or paint are no longer recommended for treating pruning wounds. There is some controversy regarding these products, but generally they have not been shown to be helpful. Some scientists believe the sealant actually may interfere with the tree’s ability to form a protective callous over the wound.

For more information on pruning, contact a Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service office and ask for Extension publication “HO-4, Pruning Ornamental Trees and Shrubs.”

If you’re in need of a professional arborist, look in the local phone directory yellow pages under “tree service.” It is wise to get estimates from several firms and references from other people who have used a service before signing a contract.


Share This Article
Disclaimer: Reference to products is not intended to be an endorsement to the exclusion of others which may have similar uses. Any person using products listed in these articles assumes full responsibility for their use in accordance with current directions of the manufacturer.
Indiana Yard and Garden – Purdue Consumer Horticulture - Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, 625 Agriculture Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907

© 2024 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Indiana Yard and Garden – Purdue Consumer Horticulture

If you have trouble accessing this page because of a disability, please contact Indiana Yard and Garden – Purdue Consumer Horticulture at | Accessibility Resources