How to check your trees for storm damage
A storm barreled through your neighborhood, scattered branches over your yard and tore your neighbor’s tree onto the street. While cleanup begins, you should also check to see how badly the storm damaged trees on your property.
Even if you don’t see immediate damage, such as uprooted trees and snapped limbs, make sure to examine every tree. Here's a few things to look out for when assessing storm damage to your trees:
Dangerous limbs. If you see downed power lines or large limbs ready to collapse at any second, stay away. You can easily spot these trees, because they have targets: your house, parked vehicles or anything the tree could damage if it fell or shed a branch. If there's an immediate threat, call a professional tree service to cut them down safely.
The trunk and roots. If the storm split the trunk down the middle, you need to remove the tree. Also, if winds uprooted part of the tree, the tree needs to go.
Major limbs. Typically, you should plan to remove any tree with a large limb pealed or split from the trunk. The larger the limb, the less likely you can save the tree.
The crown. If a tree lost more than 50 percent of its crown — its leaves and branches — you have little chance to save it.
Wounds. Large wounds can leave your tree vulnerable to infestation and disease, and larger wounds are less likely to heal, depending on the relation of the size of the wound to the size of the limb. A smaller wound, such as a 2- to 3-inch gap on a limb 12 inches in diameter, should heal with new bark within a couple years.
Remaining branches. Can the remaining branches fill out and replace lost limbs? Before you decide whether to save the tree, consider whether remaining limbs can branch out and replace missing foliage. If not, the tree may survive, but look deformed.
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Sources: Colorado State Forest Service, The Department of Natural Resources