Living in Minnesota, we see our fair share of severe weather. Winds, heavy rain and snow all take a toll on our trees and landscape. Since it will likely go unnoticed, it is important to be aware of the dangers of hidden storm damage, such as tree disease and the compromising of the structural integrity of your trees.
Hidden Above Ground
While tree damage caused by severe weather is often visible, certain types of damage can go undetected. This damage can include:
- Weakened branches that are still attached to the tree but can be easily torn from the tree.
- Detached branches that are caught in the canopy of the tree (and blend in with the other branches).
- Cracks in trees with multiple leaders (main trunk) that are high and out of sight.
Branches that are loose or detached from the tree are dangerous because of the threat they pose to your property. If weight is added to a weak branch – by ice or snow, for example – it can snap from the tree and crash onto whatever might be below. A weak branch that doesn’t have added weight can also snap weeks or months after the initial damage is done, as it is further weakened by less severe weather, such as light rain or wind. Similarly, branches that are detached and caught in the canopy can fall during less severe weather and cause damage.
Cracks in the trunk or limbs of a tree can cause hidden dangers as well. Not only could a crack worsen and cause the tree to split, but it can also serve as an entryway for disease or infestation. This puts the health and structure of the tree at risk, if left untreated.
Hidden Below Ground
It is understandingly often assumed that the root system of a tree is safe during severe weather since it is below ground. However, given the right (or wrong) conditions, the root system can be put under extreme pressure that it may not be able to handle. When heavy rainfall occurs and the ground has continually high moisture levels, the root system can become oversaturated and fail.
The roots of a tree serve as its anchor and provide it with stability. If severe weather causes a tree to lean, even slightly, the root system will be shifted and strained. When this happens, the tree is more likely to fall during less severe weather. Root damage can sometimes be characterized by heavily packed soil, but this is often overlooked if not performed by a trained professional.
Winter snow often splits and destroys ornamental trees and shrubs. Arborvitae are a common and susceptible ornamental to winter storm damage. However, they are a resilient and dense tree, and can be salvaged in many circumstances. Ostvig Tree Care provides storm damage tie-ups for small storm damage ornamentals throughout the year (this entails bringing any broken branches upright into their previous position).
While you may be unable to completely avoid damage, you can certainly take preventative measures to lessen the risk of damage to your landscape. A healthy tree is always less likely to have damage than one that isn’t properly cared for. To maintain the health of your tree, it is recommended that you consider the following maintenance tactics.
- Pruning Removing unhealthy branches from a tree is a great way to prevent property damage. It may also prevent disease from being spread from the branch to the rest of the tree system.
- Watering If a tree is not properly watered, its root system will be weakened and the health of the overall tree will decline.
- Fertilizing Your trees are stronger when they receive the nutrients they need. Fertilization may be necessary to boost their immunity from the elements.
- Mulching Trees best retain moisture and nutrients when they are properly mulched. Mulch also serves as a barrier from components that may hinder the benefits of any watering and fertilizing you’ve performed.
Check out additional tips on preparing your property – and your family – for severe weather. If you are concerned about hidden storm damage on your landscape and would like a second opinion, give Ostvig Tree Care a call today.