If you live in the Portland-Vancouver area, you’re familiar with our powerful storms and know that once the winds have subsided, it’s time to assess the damage. While trees are made to bent in the wind, not all make it through our mighty gale force winds unscathed so here are storm recovery tips from General Tree Service.
Surveying the damage
If the tree isn’t posing an immediate threat or blocking access, it’s ok to take a few weeks or months to weigh your options. When assessing damage, you can put your trees into 3 categories.
- Light damage-mostly broken branches but the tree will be ok.
- Moderate damage-lots of broken branches so you ‘wait and see’ if it recovers.
- Heavy damage-more severe injuries (like a cracked trunk) means the tree either can’t be saved or you’ll have to decide if it’s worth saving.
Whatever the amount of damage sustained, it’s always a good idea to have an arborist certified by the ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) inspect the tree.
Keeping trees with light damage
Trees are resilient so when there’s only minor damage, you can prune the broken branches, repair torn bark and let nature take care of the rest. Remember that young trees recover quicker so if the leader and structure for branching is intact, the tree will be ok.
More mature trees can usually survive the loss of 1 major limb so prune the broken limb back to the trunk and let the tree begin repairing the wound. Even when a tree has lots of broken branches, enough of the crown may remain to provide food/nutrients for the rest of the tree-it just needs time to recover.
Wait and See approach
As we said before, you don’t need to make an immediate decision so if you think it’s a 50/50 shot, you’ve got nothing to lose by giving the tree some time to recover. Resist the urge to prune too much as the tree will need as much foliage as possible to produce ample food to get through the upcoming growing season.
With moderate damage, we recommend bringing in a certified arborist to assess the damage. They can safely remove the damaged branches, repair any torn bark and give helpful tips to aid the tree in its healing.
Recovery isn’t possible
Sometime the damage is too severe and no matter what is done, a tree can’t be saved. Here’s some examples when recovery is not possible.
- Trunk is split
- More than 50% of crown is gone
- Tree has been weakened by disease
Whenever the trunk is split, the tree can’t be saved as the wound is too big to ever mend. Likewise, when a tree has lost all or most of its leafy crown, it probably can’t grow enough new leaves to provide nourishment to the rest of the tree. This has an accumulative effect as when it can’t produce food for the existing branches/leaves, it can’t possibly support growth for new branches/leaves.
Keep a lookout for scam artists
They’re opportunists who often come through neighborhoods after a big storm posing as tree professionals. While their immediate service and pricing might be tempting to some, they are not tree experts and could cause even more damage if allowed to work on your trees.
If damage is minor and you decide to care for the tree yourself, make sure you follow safety precautions and best practices. This would be a good time to do preventative pruning on all your other trees to decrease the chance of any more broken branches during future storms.
Time will tell
In summary, when you have trees that you think are borderline, you’ve got nothing to lose by waiting. Trees are amazing and will begin to repair themselves but healing takes time so be patient.
General Tree Service has a staff of certified arborists and tree professionals to help those in the Portland Oregon metro area as well as Vancouver and SW Washington. We hope these storm recovery tips will be useful and please contact us if you want an estimate or consultation.