How to Handle Tree Storm Damage

Seeing a beloved tree toppled over or broken after a summer storm in Minnesota can overwhelm any homeowner. It might be hard to know where to start cleaning up, especially if your home has been damaged too. You may even have unknown businesses come to your door selling “emergency” tree work.

Many homeowners want to jump in and do things on their own. However, when it comes to trees, short-term decisions, including improper removal of partially broken limbs, can have long term consequences to the health of your tree. Some jobs are safe for do-it-yourselfers, such as removing small broken branches, but larger jobs can be dangerous. These tips from our experts can help you make the best decisions, and avoid common pitfalls after storm damage.

tree storm damage

Survey the damage after a storm

  • Be aware of hazards like fallen power lines and broken tree limbs, which may be hanging overhead. Fallen trees or large tree branches can easily hide electrical hazards.
  • Contact your insurance provider or take pictures of damaged property before moving any part of a tree that has hit a structure.
  • Don’t get taken advantage of by storm chasers that may knock on your door offering removal services. Verify insurance, licensing information, and an arborist’s ISA credentials from anyone selling tree services following a storm. 
  • This article offers tips on how to hire an arborist.

How much storm damage is too much?

Many trees can be pruned after storm damage, however in some cases saving a beloved mature tree isn’t an option. A tree may need to be removed if:
  • it loses more than a third of its overall canopy volume as it may become stressed and decline in health.
  • the remaining parts are structurally unstable and at risk of breaking later.
  • the tree is too disfigured (in other words, you can’t stand to look at it).
  • Assessing tree risk

    Not every damaged tree needs to be removed. If you have concerns, call an ISA Certified Arborist and ask if they can perform a tree risk assessment. The arborist will make recommendations based on their findings along with your goals and concerns. The property owner is responsible for following professional recommendations about the tree.

    Questions to consider:

    • If a branch failed, what would it hit?
    • Is there a valuable structure or vehicle under the tree?
    • Is it over a high traffic area where people walk or play?
    consulting arborist rolling up tape measure next to tree

    Can storm damage be prevented?

    While even the healthiest of trees sustain damage during a severe storm, most trees that sustain damage have structural issues that made them a higher risk for damaging winds. Follow our expert tips to keep your mature trees storm-ready!

    • Prune your trees. Wind resistance typically causes damage to the tree’s trunk and branches. Along with thinning out the top of the canopy, pruning will also help remove dead, diseased, and damaged branches that could fall during a storm.
    • Check those roots. Leaning trees could mean your tree has a root problem. Have an ISA Certified Arborist check your roots to ensure their structure provides stability. If your roots are currently strong, further protect them by using a wide ring of mulch around the base of your tree. This helps protect roots from damage and helps get water and nutrients through the soil to the roots.
    • Look for cavities. Cavities don’t just apply to your teeth; they also apply to your tree. If there is any open cavity or decay your tree might be weak, hollow, and easily damaged. Have your Certified Arborist check your tree for a professional opinion

    Additional resources

    Do you have a storm damage in the Minneapolis area?

    Rainbow Treecare is licensed and insured, and has over 45 ISA Certified Arborists on staff. You can count on us to handle your storm damage while ensuring the safety of you and our crew!

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