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Taking Care of Trees after a Storm (07/13/17)

While most of the discussion recently has been focused on drought, some parts of the state are dealing with the aftermath of heavy storms.

Taking Care of Trees after a Storm.

While most of the discussion recently hazelezniks been focused on drought, some parts of the state are dealing with the aftermath of heavy storms. These storms caused quite a bit of damage to trees in cities and towns, in yards and in rural shelterbelts.  Properly dealing with this damage can help trees recover more quickly and help to prevent future damage.

Before beginning any tree work, be aware of power lines that may have come down during the storms.  Don’t touch them, and don’t touch anything that is contacting them.  Fences, broken branches and even pruning tools can conduct electricity, causing indirect contact with the power line.  Also, look around for hanging branches in the remaining tree crowns or in power lines, that may present a hazard. 

The best thing that can be done for storm-damaged trees, quite simply, is to properly prune out the damaged limbs.  Removing any dead or broken branches will allow the trees to recover more quickly and will also minimize the chances of infection by insects or diseases.  Do not over-prune or top the tree.  These actions will create very large wounds and remove healthy branches that are vital to supporting the leaves that are needed for creating new food and energy that are critical to healing and re-growth.  If the tree’s appearance isn’t quite perfect, that’s okay.  The tree will fill in bare spots quickly.  To learn more about proper pruning techniques, see ‘Basic Guidelines for Pruning Trees and Shrubs’, NDSU Extension publication H-1036. 

Finally, know when to say goodbye.  If trees have lost more than 50% of their crowns, they may be good candidates for removal.  That’s a lot of damage for a tree to sustain, and though it’s possible that the tree could recover, it will likely take a long time and the tree will be more susceptible to insects and diseases during that period.



Joe Zeleznik

Extension Forester

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