Healthy trees offer us an array of benefits. Trees supply us with clean air and water, improve our mental wellbeing and lower blood pressure, and provide essential protection for our homes during sunny or stormy days. But what happens when the trees in your yard are unhealthy? If a storm hits, that struggling tree could cause more harm than good. Keep your trees healthy with tips from the Department of Forestry!
Tree Health Indicators
Trees take the brunt of severe storm damage, which is great news for your roof and property. That’s why it’s important to monitor your trees’ health and provide care when needed.
How can you tell if your tree is unhealthy and vulnerable to storm damage?
- Cracks between the tree’s trunk (creating a fork in the tree), cavities with significant rot, and fungi at the base of the tree are all major indicators that your tree is not in the best shape. Have an ISA-certified arborist come take a look, especially if the condition worsens. Arborists, also known as tree surgeons, focus on individual tree care.
- The presence of vines/ivy – though they can look aesthetically decorative – choke and stress your trees, weakening them from storms. Cut the vines/ivy off at the bottom, and the rest of the plant will fall off in time.
- Root damage can weaken a tree. Some softer trees, such as maples, have elevated roots that are prone to being run over by lawn mowers or other yard activities. Twisted roots will wrap around each other and eventually choke themselves, causing significant damage. Mulching your tree to its canopy line is the best way to prevent root damage. This will inhibit grass from growing in that area, so your roots will be protected from mowing.
How can you tell if your tree is healthy and storm resilient? Are there steps to improve tree health?
- A root flare, or fluted trunk, is a sign of a healthy tree. The bottom of the tree will flare outward, appearing slightly larger at the base of the trunk.
- The trunk will have no presence of rot and will be a single stem. Note: for some species of tree, such as the river birch, having multiple large trunks is normal and healthy.
- Trees planted near each other is a great thing! If clustered in groups, stronger trees on the outer edge protect the weaker trees in the middle from extreme weather threats. A heavier tree cover usually means less storm damage for neighborhood homes.
- Properly prune your trees. The best time to prune is in the winter while the tree is dormant. Cut outside of the branch collar (the bloated piece of wood right at the attachment of the trunk) instead of flush with the trunk.
If you see some small defects in a tree’s health, it is not a death sentence for your tree. Hire an ISA-certified arborist for their expert assistance. For more information, watch the Department of Forestry’s video on YouTube.