Last June’s destructive storm showed that trees can be the victim of heavy wind storms. After that historic storm, lots of homeowners were trimming downed branches, clearing trees off rooflines and even making plans to remove large uprooted trees that fell victim to winds estimated at 80 to 100 mph. But, there’s steps you can take to prevent some of this type of tree damage next time.
This damage is often caused by defects in a tree. One way to minimize these defects is to perform preventative pruning in the first 10 to 15 years of a tree’s life.
According to OPPD foresters, pruning promotes good structure and makes the tree more resistant to storms. This preventative pruning directs the growth of the tree by cutting branches that aren’t growing correctly.
Below are some common defects to look for. Correcting these defects now will help your trees withstand severe weather. More tree planting tips can be found at oppd.com.
CODOMINANT STEMS: These are stems of equal size originating from the same point on the tree. Codominant stems with a “V” shape at the joint often have included bark, which is bark pinched between two stems, creating a weak union. Prune to eliminate this defect by leaving the stem that will give the tree a dominant leader.
LARGE LOWER LIMBS: Low branches on large shade trees are temporary and should be removed early in a tree’s life. The lowest permanent branch on many shade trees should be 12 to 15 feet off the ground. Prune these branches early in the tree’s life to prevent larger pruning wounds in the future. If you remove these large limbs later in the tree’s life, it weakens the tree and makes it prone to storm damage.
PROPER PRUNING: Follow the diagram at left when trimming limbs from your tree. If a cut is made correctly, the branch collar of the tree (the bulge where the limbs join) should be intact. A proper cut will leave a round wound with the callus tissue forming a “donut” shape.