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TLC for Trees After a Storm

TLC for Trees After a Storm

When big storms roll into the area, people have enough to worry about with their homes, cars and personal belongings, but sometimes trees take the biggest brunt of the damage. In such a case, what are Oregonians expected to do?

TLC for Trees After a Storm

“After the storm, the task becomes triage, if you will pardon the pun, as people figure out the damage that was caused from the storm and what they can do to correct it,” Paul Ries, an urban forester with the Oregon State University Extension Service, told He cautions homeowners “Don’t try to repair all the damage yourself if your trees are large. Bring in a certified arborist if large limbs are broken or hanging.”

Before you decide what action to take, there are a number of factors to consider:

  • Is the tree healthy other than the storm damage?
  • Are major limbs broken? The larger a broken limb, the harder it will be for the tree to recover.
  • Has the leader – the main upward-trending branch on most trees – been lost? In some species, a leader is important to upward growth and desirable appearance.
  • Is at least 50 percent of the tree’s crown – or its branches and leaves – still intact? A tree with less than half of its branches remaining may not be able to produce enough foliage to sustain itself.
  • How big are the wounds where branches have been broken or bark has been damaged? The larger the wound, the less likely the tree will be able to seal the damage.
  • Are there remaining branches that can form a new branch structure?
  • Is the tree the most suitable species for the location?

Such decisions are tough to make for the average homeowner, which is why it’s always recommended to have an tree service Oregon expert survey the situation.

If you’re going to make the fixes yourself, taking into account that the tree is not beyond repair, has some tips for you to do the work in the safest and most efficient way possible.

  • Safety first: Be very aware of power lines that have either fallen or are close to falling on a tree after a storm. These can be very dangerous and should only be handled by a certified technician. A more common safety hazard is fallen branches that are being held up by stable limbs. More often than not, the slightest disturbance will send these branches crashing to the ground, so be sure to steer clear and seek help from an arborist as soon as possible.
  • Remove attached but broken branches: Broken branches or limbs should be pruned back to the point where they connect to the trunk or unbroken branch. It is very important that the cut be clean and flush with the undamaged portion of the tree to prevent damage or disease.
  • Repair torn bark: Smooth out ripped or torn bark. Jagged or ragged bark can create a hiding place for harmful insects and a breeding ground for fungus. Take care to harm as little of the inner (green) bark as possible as this layer is very important in carrying nutrients throughout the tree.
  • Don’t over prune or top: Removing problem branches may leave your tree looking uneven or bare in spots. Resist the temptation to over prune in an effort to make the tree more symmetrical. Small branches and leaves will grow back soon enough, promising the tree will once again be full and balanced.

The Arbor Day Foundation also has some tree recovery tips to keep in mind when trees have been damaged in a storm.

  • Don’t Panic. If a tree is not an immediate hazard, it is usually fine to wait a few weeks or months before making your final decision.
  • Watch out for scam artists. After a storm, it is common for people claiming to be tree specialists to show up offering their services.
  • Seek professionals. Find an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture.
  • Follow best practices. If you decide to care for a damaged tree yourself, be sure to follow proper safety precautions and best practices.
  • Prepare trees for future storms. With proper care, much of the worst damage to trees and property can be prevented.
  • Remember the importance of community forestry.

The Department of Environmental Conservation offers the following tips regarding the caring and pruning of damaged trees:

  • Insurance. In all but life threatening situations, you may want to consider contacting your insurance carrier before any tree work is performed. Most homeowners’ policies will cover at least part of the cost of tree removal if some structural damage has occurred. Tree stump removal might be an option if the you are working with an older tree.
  • Be Conservative. Many communities across the country have either had damage to, or have lost trees because of major ice and/or snow storms or other natural causes in recent years. Decisions made soon after the damage occurs can, and will, determine whether or not a damaged tree survives.
  • Avoid Fertilizing. Do not assume that damaged trees will benefit from a fertilizer application. If trees are removed completely and new trees are planted, it is not necessary to fertilize new trees for the first year. Most trees, that come from a nursery are well fertilized already and do not need additional treatment. says the following instances are when a tree simply cannot be saved, and you should contact a tree service expert for removal as soon as possible:

  • If a tree leans over your house, car, or areas where people walk or play, it has to come down.
  • If your tree is hanging over or touching power lines, removing it isn’t a do-it-yourself task.

Cost for tree removal varies according to the size and location of the tree. Expect to pay between $800 and $3,000 to remove a medium-sized tree. For more information on tree trimming or tree removal services in Oregon, click here.