3 Steps to More Storm Tolerant Trees

2011 saw its fair share of storms causing damage to trees and property throughout the Kawarthas. As the owner of Logan Tree Experts I spent a lot of time talking to my clients about why some trees fall and why some stand during weather events such as this. While there are lots of reasons for tree failure I teach my clients these 3 simple steps to keep trees strong and healthy and more storm tolerant: Plant Well, Prune Properly, and Promote Strong Roots.  Although to some this may seem simple enough, I would argue the vast majority of tree failures are due to a lack of one or more of these steps.

Plant Well

Large strong trees come from small healthy trees. When it comes to planting, the most important place to start is with the right tree for the right location.  It is important to consider the tree’s characteristics and requirements as well as soil composition,  soil moisture and available space for the tree to grow in. If any of these factors are missing the health of that tree will be affected throughout its lifetime and the chance of failure in a storm increases dramatically.

Prune Properly

Pruning is necessary for trees throughout their life span. Young trees need a little help to establish healthy structure and branch spacing. This early pruning creates a strong form of well attached limbs evenly spread out which will give it the strength it needs to combat winds. Mature trees should be pruned to remove dead, broken and rubbing limbs. The timely removal of these will help the tree focus energy on defending itself against pest and diseases and on naturally strengthening its structure.   As a tree becomes larger the force of wind or snow and ice can be too much. Reduction pruning is a technique used to lessen the spread of the canopy and limit the opportunity for branch and stem failure in storm situations. No matter what type of pruning is required, it is critical that cuts are made properly, if not they could cause decay that can severely weaken the structure of a tree. Proper tools and knowledge are necessary.

Promote Strong Roots

While the first step to strong and healthy roots is starting with a healthy tree and planting it properly, maintaining that health throughout a trees  life is important and sometimes difficult. As trees get larger so do their root zone. Construction, changing the soil depth, compaction, over watering and even the sterility of a maintained lawn can cause a weakened and compromised root zone. Several techniques can be used such as fertilizing, protection during construction and implementing tree health care programs can help trees and their roots cope with a changing environment. A healthy root zone leads to a healthier and more stable tree.

Although this is a simplified list of what can make trees more tolerant to storms, I believe that if you follow these steps: plant well,  prune properly and promote strong roots, you will have a road map to stronger, healthier trees .

For more articles on tree care and information on our services, visit our website at www.ec2-54-172-148-108.compute-1.amazonaws.com.  Matt Logan is a Cerified Arborist and Tree Risk Assessor and owner of Logan Tree Experts. He is also an instructor for ArborCanada, an arborist training company, and a writer for Ontario Arborist magazine.