September 14, 2020

Restoring Trees After a Storm

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Parts of Utah lost a lot of trees last week and it may feel different in your neighborhood or local park without them. We don't often get hurricane-force winds in Utah but strong winds can occasionally pop up every few years with the right conditions. To help us better understand how to recover damaged landscapes, here is what we found experts recommend on tree care, from places which get these high winds often, think Florida hurricanes!

After a wind storm, it's important to take care of safety hazards first. Hazards to look for include broken tree branches that are hanging from the tree and leaning trees and anything near power lines. Careful pruning is often needed after a storm, be aware, and wear protective clothing. Trim above ragged breaks on small stems, and remove entire branches when the main structural branches break. The most important task is removing damaged limbs and branches on trees and shrubs. Make a clean cut at the base of the branch where it is attached to the next largest branch. A clean smooth cut allows the branch to heal itself by sealing to keep wood-decay from entering and spreading. A good rule of thumb is to remove and take down trees with over half their branches damaged. After you have assessed damages you can gather and use or donate any collected wood. 

If you have had problems with smaller trees being damaged after extreme storm winds, and you want to try and save those types of trees, you’ll be happy to know that a lot of trees that are down can be reset and rescued. Below are some tips that you can use to help with saving the trees.

  • Cover your trees’ roots so that they’re moist until you’re able to work more on them.
  • Work on pruning your tree’s root system so that it can be put back into the ground. You should also dig out the soil under the exposed roots, being careful not to break the roots, this is very important! If roots are broken replanting will most likely not work.
  • Right your tree and stake it, leaving the stake there for a minimum of 6 months.
  • Water the tree each day for 2-4 weeks. If it rains, less will be okay. Keep the area of the roots moist for a few months.
  • Before removing damaged plants, wait three to six months to allow them to attempt to recover. 

Take some time as you go on a walk and notice how the face of the landscape has changed, think of ways to restore your area, help your neighbors and create new green spaces. Give gratitude for the trees in your life and know that while ever-changing, tree life will go on.