Proactive Services to prepare your trees for Storms:
Living in the Midwest, we are no strangers to strong storms throughout the year. These storms can seemingly pop up out of nowhere with torrential rains and damaging winds. It is quite common to have significant tree damage after these storms blow though an area. A single storm can drastically change a landscape with the amount of tree damage that occurs. Trees in our urban environments are highly susceptible to these storms as they grow in more open areas compared to their natural settings, and they have many other stresses from our urban environment. Being proactive in our care and maintenance of our urban trees is critical in mitigating the impact of these storms on urban tree populations and to the value of our landscapes and urban forest. Tree planting tends to get most of the headlines, but proactive, safe and professional tree maintenance and management is the key to unlocking the value of our trees and urban forest.
Consulting with an ISA certified arborist is the first step in preparing your trees for a significant storm. An ISA certified arborist will help you put together the best plan for your trees in preventing severe damage. As trees grow in our urban landscapes, they can become more vulnerable to certain issues. Three primary areas to focus on to mitigate storm damage risks to our trees includes routine maintenance pruning, structural integrity of the tree and the health of the tree from pests and/or pathogens. Management of pests and pathogens on our trees is commonly referred to as plant health care, we will discuss more on that later in this article.
Proper pruning of a tree’s canopy is one of the services that can be performed to help minimize storm damage. By removing large deadwood and unneeded live material from the canopy the tree is less susceptible to failing in the high winds. Proper pruning allows more airflow through the canopy which limits the amount of wind stress on the trunk and branches. Some species of trees require more frequent pruning to achieve this. This is why a regular visit with your certified arborist is so important in preventing storm damage.
Cable bracing is another service that can be used for certain trees to prepare them for severe weather. This service is used to help reinforce trees that have structural deficiencies. These deficiencies can increase the potential of structural failure and cabling can help mitigate and manager that failure from becoming catastrophic. Cabling installations utilize hardware that is installed into the tree to make it more structurally stable. There are tree species that have growth patterns that warrant installing this hardware. When installed correctly, a cable bracing system can be extremely beneficial.
Plant health care, as mentioned above, are programs and services intended to sustain trees’ health and condition. Our urban environment is an unnatural environment for trees to grow, but through management and proper recommendations, ISA certified arborists can sustain the health and strength of our trees, ultimately giving them the best chances when storms do come through. If trees are suffering from pest or pathogen impacts they can become structurally weakened. Trees that have compromised structures tend to fail when under the stress of high winds. Your certified arborist will be able to inform you of what types of pests and pathogens may be present on your tree or susceptible to. They can then provide you with a customized plant health care program that will help keep your trees thriving. These services are often overlooked but are just as important, if not more, than proper pruning.
Strong storms have always been present in our area, and as time goes on the extremity and strength of these storms has at times become unpredictable. Just because we annually receive high/damaging winds, it does not mean that our trees have to be severely damaged with every storm. With some proactive services in place our trees can be protected.