Damage caused to trees by severe weather accounts for more than $1 billion in property damage in the United States each year. Broken limbs, fallen trees and wood debris propelled by strong wind damages thousands of properties annually. Fallen trees and broken branches cause structural damage, roofing damage, siding damage, break windows, fall on cars and cause power lines to topple. Homeowners should be aware that trees located between the street and sidewalk are usually owned by the city and removal of damaged trees are the city’s responsibility. If you have a tree that has been damaged and needs to be removed, be aware that many insurance policies cover the cost of tree removal, including fallen branches.
First responders in storm damage situations focus on dealing with hazards to life and property, first and foremost. After that, it is wise to try and save the trees that can be saved. Trees are amazingly resilient and many recover from severe storm damage with time and proper care. Despite the urge to make an immediate decision to keep or remove a damaged tree, as long as the tree does not pose an immediate physical risk, it is a good idea to keep the tree for the time being.
Assessing Tree Damage
When assessing the condition of a damaged tree, it is important to remember that trees are incredibly resilient and can often heal from severe storm damage. With the proper first aid and care, many damaged trees survive. When assessing the damage to a tree, there are a number of important factors to consider:
Is the tree basically healthy?
If a tree is basically healthy, other than storm damage it has a better chance of recovering with proper trimming, care and time.
Are the major limbs broken?
The more large limbs that are broken, the more difficult it is for a tree to fully recover. A tree with the majority of large limbs broken or missing has a very low chance of survival.
Are at least 50% of the tree’s branches intact?
A tree that has lost more than half of its branches may not be able to produce enough leaves to survive the coming growing season.
Is the main upward-trending branch (the leader branch) broken?
Without a strong leader branch, the tree will be stunted and may not survive.
Is the tree in a desirable location?
The best decision to remove a damaged tree can be location. If the tree is located near power lines, or poses a future threat to your home and is seriously damaged, it may be worth removing now before it creates additional problems.
Beware Tree Removal Scams
After severe storms, especially large-scale disasters, it is common for people with chain saws to come knocking on your door offering tree removal, or tree repair services. Do not be pressured into working with a door-to-door tree service. Many have little or no professional training and can cause additional damage to trees that could have otherwise been saved by a reputable, trained professional. The following are tips to help you avoid tree removal scams and to find a professional tree service with the experience to save your damaged trees:
- Determine if the tree service is an established company?
- How long have they been in business?
- Are they local, or from out of state?
- Do they have a business license?
- Do they have a website, or local business listing?
- Is the company properly insured for property damage, personal liability and workers compensation insurance? Call the insurer for verification
- Do they have a trained, certified arborist on staff?
- Ask for at least 3 local references