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Storm damage to landscape trees

Quick facts

  • Healthy trees have a better chance of surviving storm damage.
  • Natural tree imperfections can make them prone to damage.
  • Cuts or wounds on trees can make them more vulnerable to insects and diseases.
  • Homeowners can care for and repair minor damage, but hire a tree care professional to take care of more severe problems. 

 

tree uprooted and lying on its side with a child's tree swing attached
Tree failure can have serious consequences. Photo: Gary R. Johnson

In the upper Midwest, wind and ice storms are common and often cause tremendous damage to individual trees and urban forests.

These storms can cause weakly attached branches to separate and rip trees apart. Trees with stem girdling roots or inadequate root systems may blow over or break off at the ground line.

Whatever the case, these effects can cause personal and property damage.

Causes of tree weakness

The key to preventing tree damage is to correct potential problems before storms strike.

Common problems that can be corrected

  • Tree form  
  • Tree decay 
  • Maintenance practices
  • Stem girdling roots
  • Site problems

City foresters and tree care professionals can help you solve tree care problems.

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Preventing tree loss from storm damage

Trees that are properly planted and kept healthy are much more likely to weather a storm. 

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Treating tree damage after a storm

There are things a homeowner can do to correct the minor damage that storms inflict.

Before trying to treat any major damage yourself, consider hiring a tree care professional. Except for pruning small branches and straightening slightly leaning small trees, it's best to consult an arborist.

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Gary Johnson, Extension forester and Ben Johnson, certified master arborist

Reviewed in 2018

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