Skip to main content

Caring for Trees After a Major Storm

Following a major storm, our backyards, and communities can be quickly changed. Homes and buildings may be damaged or destroyed. Power lines will be down and trees broken and torn. In the wake such change people, and entire neighborhoods may experience a severe sense of loss.

Damage to the trees in our backyards and open areas can be shocking. They have shaped the visual character of our local landscape. The initial impulse is to immediately do something. The prudent course is to have patience in dealing with the consequences of the storm. Trees are resilient and many recover with proper care and time. Many of the tree species found in our yards and along our streets are accustomed to weathering our local storms. If there is no immediate physical risk from a damaged tree, keep the tree for the moment.

Safety First

Safety is the first major concern for all of us. Stay away from downed utility lines. You should report them to the utility companies or 911 operators.  Never use pruning equipment near utility lines. Beware of broken tree limbs that may be ready to fall.

Be Patient

Be patient with government agencies and allow them time to organize their resources and prioritize work.  Utility companies and their contractors will focus on immediate threats to life and property.  After the removal of hazards, the major task of debris removal from the storm begins. This includes the removal of damaged branches and sometimes entire trees. Remember that street trees, usually those between the streets and sidewalks, are typically the responsibility of the City or County.

Limbs, branches, and trunks of trees that have fallen on the ground are often under tremendous physical pressure. They are extremely dangerous to cut and remove. In such a situation a novice chainsaw operator is taking a great risk in personal safety. Unless you are well trained, and experienced, it is best to contract with a qualified arborist to do the work.  This is a complex undertaking. They have the equipment and know-how to safely remove fallen trees and broken limbs with an eye towards saving trees. Retaining the services of a certified arborist is highly recommended.

Hire a Qualified Arborist

Choose an arborist wisely. The wrong choice can have long-term consequences for your trees and your personal property.  Watch out for scam artists. After major storms, it is not uncommon for people claiming to be tree specialists or arborists to go door-to-door. Unfortunately, many such individuals have little or no training. Don’t become a victim. Make sure you are dealing with a reputable arborist or tree care company. Information on how to find and hire a certified arborist can be found at https://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/woody/arborist.shtml

Take Heart – Trees are amazingly resilient, and the trees of other communities have recovered over time.
These photos illustrate storm damage to trees that proved to be correctable with proper care.