7 Hazards to Watch Out For After a Storm

7 Hazards to Watch Out For After a Storm

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

While storms can provide much-needed water for a garden, they can wreak havoc on your landscape plants—downing trees, breaking limbs and even causing property damage or personal injury.

Keeping trees healthy, pruned and structurally sound helps minimize accidents before, during and after the storm. Once a storm subsides, make it a priority to check landscape trees, or better yet, contact a qualified, certified arborist to take a closer look.

Trees maintained throughout the year are less likely to break apart in storms because weak branches are identified and carefully removed before the storm can break them.

Poorly maintained trees can become a problem. Regularly check trees for broken, damaged or leaning trunks, branches or limbs. Some maintenance is best left to the professionals. Check for the following signs to reduce the risk associated with your trees.

7 Signs Your Tree Needs Attention:

  1. Deadwood: Dead trees and branches can fall at any time. Look for leafless branches when others have plenty of green leaves. Another sign of deadwood is old bark that has mostly fallen away—instead there is only smooth wood underneath.
  2. Cracks: Storms can cause branches to twist, bend and crack. Check for deep splits in the bark that extend into the wood of the tree.
  3. Decay: Soft wood or cavities where wood is missing are signs of decay. Decay at the base of the trunk or in the roots can lead to the entire tree falling over, so be particularly attentive to signs of decay in these areas. Healthy trees are better suited to wall off decay while struggling trees will succumb to decay more quickly. This is another good reason to keep your trees healthy.
  4. Weak branch unions: When two or more branches or trunks that are roughly equal in size come together in a tight “V”-shaped angle, there is frequently bark embedded in the union. This makes for a weak attachment that is more likely to break apart.
  5. Evidence of soil lifting near roots: High winds can cause trees to rock, even causing roots to break off or lift. Check to see if a tree is leaning, or if the soil near the base of the tree is lifting on one side. This can be a particularly serious problem in areas where digging, trenching or construction activities may have damaged roots.
  6. Imbalanced tree crown: Some trees grow naturally with an imbalanced or lopsided canopy, and they compensate by growing extra wood to support the weight. Other trees begin growing in a balanced manner, but excessive pruning or damage removes much of the canopy on one side. This sudden imbalance in the canopy brings additional force to the trunk and roots, increasing the likelihood of failure. Pay close attention to trees that have experienced rapid change in the shape or size of their canopy.
  7. Trees impacted by construction: Closely examine trees near areas where construction activity has impacted the area near the tree, particularly if digging has taken place within the drip line of the tree (that’s the area directly under the branches). Digging can cut through roots, and the compaction of soil with heavy equipment or the addition of fill soil can smother the roots, increasing the likelihood that the entire tree will fall over.

Although defective trees present increased risks, not all of them need to be removed immediately, and some defects can be treated to prolong the life of the tree.

Seek a consultation with a certified arborist to evaluate tree species, soil conditions, wind exposure, defects, overall health and other factors to determine a tree’s hazard potential.

Tree risks aren’t always visible or obvious. Advanced analysis, sometimes through the use of specialized arborist tools or techniques, may be necessary.
Storms can be quick but cause significant and lasting damage. Be prepared by having a plan to prevent devastation on your property.