This time of year, storms tend to sneak up on us, as we saw last Friday night. Unfortunately, some of those storms can be severe and cause damage to us, our homes, our vehicles, and even our trees. When storms bring strong winds, hail, and tornadoes, these things can all do different kinds of damage to our trees. Cleanup doesn’t end with the branches on the ground.
If heavy winds come and break branches, those breaks need to be cleaned up to a good pruning cut to allow the plant to seal up the wound. If the storm broke the top out of the tree, it would be a good idea to get a Certified Arborist in to look at the damage to determine if the tree can be salvaged. Allow the Arborist to do the pruning because there are methods that can be done to start a new leader in the tree to help it fill back in and continue to grow upward.
In addition to branches breaking, some of these trees may have even had bark ripped all the way down the trunk of the tree. When trees have open wounds that are large, it takes a long time for the tree to seal up that location, if it can ever be done. This is a great location for insects and diseases to come into the trees and cause secondary effects on the trees. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done to “fix” this type of wound. It is best to just leave it alone and let it heal on its own. You can remove excess bark that is hanging off the tree, but don’t paint or wrap the wound with anything, this can hinder the sealing process of the tree.
Hail can cause damage to the leaves and bark of our trees. If your trees leaves look ragged and ripped due to hail, it is mostly aesthetic damage. The leaves are still on the tree and able to produce sugars through photosynthesis for the trees so it isn’t as damaging as it looks. Damage to the bark on the trunk and on the branches can be more problematic, unfortunately there is nothing that can fix this but time. You will always have round-to-oval shaped wounds where hail hit the tree, but over time the tree will seal these wounds and it won’t be too problematic. If there are a lot of large hail wounds to a small tree, it might be the demise, but give it time to see if it pulls through. For a second opinion have a Certified Arborist look at the tree.
Some trees were uprooted in these high winds. According to John Fech, Kathleen Cue, and Graham Herbst from Douglas-Sarpy County Extension, the younger the tree is, the more chance it has to survive storm damage that caused it to lean. If the tree is 0-5 years old, it has a good chance to survive leaning and should be staked as soon as possible, as long as it is not closely located to people or property. If the tree is 5-10 years old and is leaning, there is a 50 percent chance that the tree will survive. Consult a certified arborist to determine the survivability of that tree, as the degree of lean is what will cause the tree to live or die. If the tree is more than 10 years old and is leaning, it becomes a hazardous tree. If that tree is in an area where it is in close proximity to people or properties, it should definitely be removed. However, if this tree is on an acreage or farmstead and is further away from people or property, it may be able to survive in that location, but a certified arborist should still be consulted to know for sure.