Tree pruning steps now can prevent storm damage later

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

tree pruningCODOMINANT 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.


TRE_Storm Damage Prevention_proper cutPROPER 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.


Laura King-Homan

About Laura King-Homan

Laura King-Homan is a contributor to the Storm & Outage Center and a communications specialist at OPPD. She has nearly 20 years of print journalism and design experience, which lets her tell the stories of OPPD and its employees both graphically and through her writing.

2 thoughts on “Tree pruning steps now can prevent storm damage later

  1. Wow! You couldn't be more correct! Our company often gets called out for emergency tree services after a big storm has blown through the area and left tons of debris and downed trees. One of the things that we tell home and business owners is to make sure they try to do their preventative work in order to avoid having so much tree debris. Tree pruning, while very important, is often overlooked. If done correctly and on a regular basis, it can really solve a number of problems. We've taken pictures and posted some of what we're talking about here:
    Thanks for helping to spread the message! Best of luck!

  2. That is interesting to know that the lowest branch should be 12-15ft off the ground. I will have to make sure to see if mine are high enough. My trees lowest branch may just be 8 feet though, I will probably have to take care of it.

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