How To Guard Against Storm Damage From Trees

In this age of climate-change and extreme weather, homeowners have found that they have a new headache to add to their list of storm-related problems —  their trees. Long considered a beautifying element to any house, trees are suddenly being looked at as potential wrecking balls or life-threatening missiles. In the recent hurricanes in the United States, trees have fallen on power lines, crashed through houses, and smashed cars, to name a few problems. What is a homeowner to do?

While it’s not possible to avoid all the misfortune that Nature can throw at you, it is possible to be aware of potential dangers, and to take steps to minimize problems. As they say in the insurance business, hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Here are some tips that a proactive homeowner can implement immediately, to try to prevent life-threatening damage from the next bad storm that comes along.

Before the next storm –

– If trees overhang your house, get an arborist in there to inspect them. Trees that overhang your roof can be massive enough to crash right through the house if they are uprooted in a tornado or hurricane. Trees limbs are much heavier than they appear.

– Clear overhanging trees away from any power lines. This should be obvious, but it’s amazing how many homeowners let trees just grow right through the power lines. It’s a sure way to lose power for days when the next big one hits.

– Avoid the practice of “topping” trees in order to reduce their height. It’s the worst thing you can do. It makes a tree weaker, and more likely to break in a wind or ice storm. If a tree is simply too big, consider removing it.

– Trimming branches flush to the tree trunk is also a bad idea. It leads to decay, which again can weaken the tree.

– Inspect your property regularly, to make sure your trees are not getting into a dangerous situation.

– If you need tree work done, consider using an arborist. Tree work is complicated, and dangerous, and unless you really know what you’re doing, you can make things worse instead of better.

After the next storm –

– There will be one. And after it’s over, inspect your property right away. Be sure to check all roof areas, to make sure nothing has fallen on the roof that could drop onto your head next week or next month. You will also want to assess any possible roof damage, no matter how small.

– If damage has occurred to your trees, you’ll need to salvage or remove. If you do remove a tree, do yourself a big favor. Replace it with something smaller. Don’t start the whole cycle over again by planting another tree that is going to cause problems in five or ten years. Remember the old adage, “from little acorns…”.

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Author Leonard Farmer is a freelance writer who covers landscaping and home improvement. He recently wrote about the wide plank wood floors available at Kellogg Hardwood Lumber.

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