Tree Notes is about trees -- especially native trees, trees for wildlife, and trees in history.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Preventing Wind Damage to Trees


A big tree brought down by a violent windstorm

Big tree damaged by windstorm

Violent winds (up to 70 mph) swept through southern Kentucky on the afternoon and evening of January 29, 2008, leaving behind many broken trees and damaged structures. The above photo is a dramatic example of a tree that didn't survive the storm.

This tree is on city property (between the Municipal Building and the Police Department) near Little River in Hopkinsville, KY. I doubt if it was planted by the city. It is probably just a tree that happened to be growing there. I'd be very surprised if it's received any sort of special care or attention over the years.

It appears that the top of this tree broke in the wind, and as it fell, the heavy branches ripped off the branches below it. The tree is beyond salvage.

What can be done to reduce the chances of damage like this?

1. Choose wind-resistant, appropriately-sized species of trees.

2. As the tree grows, practice good pruning techniques. Eliminate the following as they occur:
-- one branch wherever the stem splits into a "Y" that has two equal branches directly across from each other
-- branches that cross over or rub against another branch
-- any side branch that is taller than the main stem of the tree
-- one branch wherever the crotch is weak (narrow).
-- dead or broken branches

3. Keep the crown of the tree symmetrical. Don't allow the tree to become lopsided.

4. Reduce the density of a large tree's crown so it has less wind-resistance (so the wind can blow through the tree.)

5. Keep the tree in good health by controlling insects and disease.

6. Avoid injury to the tree's trunk and roots.

7. Do not cut large branches back to stubs. New branches that shoot out from the stubs will be extremely vulnerable to weather damage due to their weak attachment.

1 comments -- please add yours:

Rees Cowden said...

In Florida and states that encounter Hurricanes the biggest problem is not branches breaking but trees being blown over. The sandy soil makes it easy for younger trees to go over. Some newer growing practices are being used to create trees with stronger root balls. I just posted a short article on my site if you're interesterd in learning more.
Rees Cowden
No Brown Thumbs

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Enrich your life with the study of trees.

"The power to recognize trees at a glance without examining their leaves or flowers or fruit as they are seen, for example, from the car-window during a railroad journey, can only be acquired by studying them as they grow under all possible conditions over wide areas of territory. Such an attainment may not have much practical value, but once acquired it gives to the possessor a good deal of pleasure which is denied to less fortunate travelers."

Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927)

Print references I frequently consult

Benvie, Sam. Encyclopedia of North American Trees. Buffalo, NY: Firefly, 2000.

Brockman, C. Frank. Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Ed. Herbert S. Zim. New York: Golden, 1986.

Cliburn, Jerry, and Ginny Clomps. A Key to Missouri Trees in Winter: An Identification Guide. Conservation Commission of the State of Missouri, 1980.

Collingwood, G. H., Warren David Brush, and Devereux Butcher. Knowing Your Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1978.

Dirr, Michael. Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: an Illustrated Encyclopedia. Portland, Or.: Timber, 1997.

Elias, Thomas S. The Complete Trees of North America; Field Guide and Natural History. New York: Book Division, Times Mirror Magazines, 1980.

Grimm, William Carey. The Book of Trees;. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1962.

Hightshoe, Gary L. Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America: a Planting Design Manual for Environmental Designers. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988.

Little, Elbert L. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees. New York: Chanticleer, 1996.

Martin, Alexander C., Herbert S. Zim, and Arnold L. Nelson. American Wildlife and Plants. New York: McGraw Hill, 1951.

Mitchell, Alan F., and David More. The Trees of North America. New York, NY: Facts On File Publications, 1987.

Randall, Charles E. Enjoying Our Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1969.

Settergren, Carl D., and R. E. McDermott. Trees of Missouri. Columbia: University Extension, 1995.

Sternberg, Guy, and James W. Wilson. Native Trees for North American Landscapes: from the Atlantic to the Rockies. Portland: Timber, 2004.

Wharton, Mary E., and Roger W. Barbour. Trees and Shrubs of Kentucky. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1973.

Wyman, Donald. Trees for American Gardens. New York: Macmillan, 1965.

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