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Ways to Prevent Storm Damage to Your Trees

Updated: Nov 20, 2020

Written by: Cory Tucek, Certified Arborist WI-1234A

Wisconsin weather is always something of a surprise. It can be 70 degrees in February followed by snow in May. While it's never easy to predict these patterns, you can guarantee a good storm or two thrown into the mix. On average, June produces the largest number of storms in Wisconsin. Unlike people though, our urban trees can't run and take cover. They're subject to the full force of damaging winds and torrential rains. While tree damage might be unavoidable in a major storm, there are steps that can be taken to help reduce hazardous tree events caused by an average Wisconsin storm.

Every year we receive calls from our clients reporting unfortunate damages that potentially could have been avoided. Our certified sales arborists can help identify and mitigate these at-risk trees and branches with annual inspections. While the weak structural integrity of these trees may go unnoticed to the untrained eye under normal conditions, excessive weather can quickly turn these at-risk trees into serious hazards.

Proper pruning cycles is one way to reduce the risk of failures. Every year trees put on new growth that extends further away from the branch-to-trunk connection. This puts excessive weight on the tips of the branches. Weight reduction prunings are great for large trees that have overextended branches. By reducing the weight on the ends of these branches, it is less likely that these branches will exceed their breaking point.

A proper crown cleaning can also help prevent failures. Removing diseased, damaged, decaying, deformed and dying branches within the tree's canopy will great improve the tree's structure. Depending on the tree species and structure, we suggest a crown clean pruning every three to five years.

Many of the failures that occur are due to a tree's poor structural integrity. While the tree may look healthy and vigorious, the structure itself may be heavily compromised. Co-dominant stems are just one example. These stems form included bark at the union, which over time leads to decay and a point of structural weakness. While the risk can not be completely mitigated, properly installed metal support cables can greatly reduce the risk of co-dominant stem failures. These static cables help support the co-dominant stems at the union and reduce the loads on these stems.

While it is unfortunate, I know calls will come rolling in after our next June storm. Please give your Hoppe sales arborist a call before it becomes your house or vehicle that's found under a tree.

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