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When To Fix A Tree After A Derecho or Wind Storm

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Derecho 2013 Map
Tree ripped out of ground

Yesterday was a full on Summer derecho storm in Chicagoland. I spent most of my afternoon checking Accuweather, my favorite cell phone weather reporting app, and gnawing off my fingernails waiting for the storm to arrive. Living in suburbia actually helps reduce some wind impact, yet more houses means more damage both to people and trees. Helping damaged trees recover from a bad windstorm is something going on in urban areas all over the Midwest this morning.

What seems to take the most damage is our trees, particularly ones that have suffered an illness or minor damage of some kind previous to the storm. With an Ash tree in my front garden which has already been attacked by Ash Borer, my neighborhood is particularly susceptible to wind damage. Down the street, another house was impacted by the fire set by a tree falling on a powerline which resulted in a small fire. I wish there were a service like Fire Watch Services NYC in our town, which we could hire to ensure fire safety. We got lucky this time and only found a couple small limbs down. . Below is a handy-dandy guide from  Davey Tree to help you with your trees wind damage assessment:

Post Wind Damage Solutions:

When to restore a tree:

  • The canopy is defoliated (trees that lose leaves in a hurricane are usually not dead)
  • Small branches are broken (small branches can easily be pruned)
  • Some major limbs are broken in decay-resistant species
  • Most of the canopy is damaged in decay-resistant species
  • Small leaning or fallen trees with a 4 in. trunk diameter can be stood back up & replanted

When to remove a tree:

  • The lower trunk or large limbs are cracked or broken
  • A large stem has split from the tree
  • A medium to large tree is leaning towards property or into the road
  • The remaining tree structure is highly susceptible to breakage
  • The major roots are severed or broken

If you live in the Midwest, I hope you and your family survived the derecho with no injuries. Remember to take care of those trees to prevent more damage in the future.

tree with storm damage

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  1. We live on the coast in NJ got hit by Sandy very hard & wondering if our 40yr. Holly tree will make it – keeps loosing leaves & looks bare in spots – should we do anything to help it along??

  2. Hi Carole! I consulted with the Davey Tree’s expert arborists and they say the following:

    “The symptoms described may be due to prolonged submergence of soil surrounding the holly and/or accumulation of sea salt in the root zone. Probably the best course of action is to have a qualified arborist examine the tree to rule out the multitude of insect and disease problems that afflict holly. Unfortunately, it is far too late to quickly flush sediments and leach salt with water, but rainwater has done that slowly over time. Mulch the drip zone with pine straw to protect sensitive new roots and keep soil pH around 5.5. Soil inject a slow-release, low-burn fertilizer with a low soluble salt content like Arbor Green Pro. If soil is not sandy and poor drainage is an issue, consider vertical mulching to improve aeration. If you have more questions, pls. contact us through”

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