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Preparing Your Trees for a Storm: A Guide to Preventative Pruning

You’ve seen the damage before: branches strewn about yards and streets, branches lying in awkward angles on driveways or on the tops of cars, even full trees blown down and across sidewalks. Storm damage often focuses on trees more so than your other possessions and assets.

But are there proven ways of preparing trees for a storm?

The answer is “yes” — there are techniques at your disposal, including preventative tree pruning services. Make sure before storms hit that you’ve considered the threats to your trees, looked for susceptibility in your trees and taken action to prevent or at least mitigate any storm-related damage that might occur to your trees.

The time to prevent storm-related damage to your trees and property is well before a storm hits. Once it happens, it’s too late to protect your assets. Here’s a look at what you can do ahead of time.

Storm Threats to Your Trees

When preparing trees for a storm, consider the different threats a storm poses. In simplest terms, there are six things a storm can do to your trees. In no particular order, those six things are:

  • Branches: This is when branches simply snap (fully break off) or tear (break and hang downward). The snapping and tearing of branches is often caused by wind velocity or weight related to ice buildup during an ice storm.
  • Crowns: The trunks of entire trees can twist in the wind when your tree’s crown is lopsided or unbalanced between one side and the other.
  • Stems: When a tree is wounded, that wound never really heals — the tree simply grows over it. In time, stems can become weaker and more prone to failure if they’ve been wounded before.
  • Roots: Disease and other threats to roots can make them weaker and more prone to failure during a storm.
  • Full Blow-Overs: When winds reach the highest of velocities, they can push or blow over trees in their entirety. When trees have not been properly maintained, they are far more susceptible to full blow-overs than trees that have been properly cared for.
  • Lightning: Lightning, of course, is always a threat to trees. And lightning is a threat that cannot be truly prevented by maintenance.
  • Signs of Susceptibility in Trees

    Before you move forward with preventative tree pruning services, consider the signs of susceptibility in your trees:

    • Cracks and Splits: If your trees have large splits or cracks, they are far more likely to full blow over or fail during a storm. Consider removing them altogether. Also, root damage is a sign your tree may not survive a significant storm.
    • Rot: Remove any tree branches that appear rotted. The branches are almost certain to fail and snap or tear during severe weather.
    • Angles: Branches should angle upward at 30 to 45 degrees, which gives them the proper position to withstand heavy storms. Branches that are close together will also be far weaker than others.
    • Power Lines: Any branches encroaching on power lines could present problems during a storm, including widespread power outages if the branch breaks the lines or wires.

    Also, consider what types of trees you’re dealing with. Some trees are far more susceptible to storm damage: trees like willows, cherry trees and silver maples that all have more brittle wood. While some other tree species are far less susceptible to damage, including white oaks, black gums, sweet gums and bald cypress trees.

    Taking Preventative Action: How to Prune Your Tree

    What is preventative pruning? Preventative tree pruning simply means cutting back trees to prevent and mitigate damage during and after a storm. But how do you execute this process effectively?

    When you decide to preventatively prune your trees, start by encouraging proper angles: branches that extend upward at 30- to 45-degree angles. Also, look for branches that are too large to support beyond the trunk. Lateral branches should be no more than 50 to 75 percent of the trunk's diameter. Prune to create balanced crowns that promote stability and be sure to remove rubbing branches. Finally, don't cut back all the way to stubs

    It's always a good idea to hire a certified arborist to get the job done right. Certified arborists have the knowledge and experience needed to properly prune trees. If you see your trees as valuable assets (which they are), a certified arborist can help you protect those trees and prevent storm-related damage.

    Beware anyone who shows up at your doorstep with a chainsaw offering tree pruning services. Having the right tools is only one part of proper tree pruning services. Make sure you find a certified arborist with real experience before hiring someone to prune.

    Choose Richard’s Tree Service

    When you need Virginia preventative tree pruning services, lean on the experience and knowledge you’ll find at Richard’s Tree Service. Since 1996, we’ve been working to help home and business owners in Northern Virginia and throughout the Washington, D.C. area to properly prune trees and prevent storm-related damage as well as a number of other services.

    We provide free quotes and assessments when you’re interested in preventative pruning and you don’t even need to be present when we stop by — we can provide an assessment from the exterior of your home and leave it for your consideration.

    Your trees are precious assets — ones that cannot be easily replaced. When you choose preventative pruning services in Virginia, you choose to protect these assets from damage or even destruction. And you're also choosing to prevent damage to your home and those who live there. Storms of all kinds can be safety threats — including hurricanes, ice storms, tornadoes and similar natural events.

    Don't let your trees become dangerous — protect them and yourself when you choose preventative pruning. Contact us today for a free estimate.

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