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Storms and trees?

If your tree is damaged by a storm, here's what you should do?

Winter is approaching, which means more storms in some parts of the country. As storms move through states, trees fall and yards are ruined with debris and damage. Fallen trees and limbs can cause injury or death, as well as damage (and even destruction) to homes and businesses.

Our team at TreeMedics understands the importance of protecting your home from inclement weather while preserving your trees. You can prepare for storm season and beyond with these tips.

Identifying and assessing tree damage

First, a homeowner should assess the severity of the damage to the trees. Storm-surviving trees may be salvageable and if we can rescue them we will. A better understanding of tree damage could save you money on repair costs. Typically, trees are responsible for most property damage caused by storms. There can, of course, be varying degrees of damage. In order to simplify it, we have divided it into three categories: mild, moderate, and severe.

Mild Tree Damage

The loss of a few limbs would be considered mild damage to a tree following a storm, none of which would pose a major concern. It is possible that you will have some broken branches or torn bark as well. Structure-wise, the tree appears to be in good shape.

Moderate Tree Damage

Moderate tree damage after a storm can be described as the loss of some significant limbs, which may have made the tree unstable. There might also be a limb hanging that poses a future risk. Perhaps there hasn't been any major damage yet, but you're worried. There may be a question as to whether the tree is still structurally sound.

Severe Tree Damage

Severe damage would certainly include an uprooted tree that has already fallen, or even a tree that is leaning and appears to be at risk. The damage caused by a huge limb crashing through a structure is also severe.

Is Storm Damage to Trees Covered by Insurance?

This is one of the most common questions homeowners ask. We generally find that if a tree falls on a structure, insurance will probably cover it. The answer may vary depending on your insurance company. Fences, pools, sheds, garages, and houses are all examples of such structures. If, however, the tree falls into the street or damages your yard or something else on your property that is not a structure (such as a car), insurance will more than likely not cover the cost.

Unfortunately, insurance will probably not cover the removal of hanging limbs that have the potential to cause damage (but haven't yet). Generally, insurance only covers damage that has already occurred.

Repairing Storm Damage to Trees

Depending on the severity of the damage, there are a variety of ways to address a damaged tree. There are many ways in which storms can cause damage. Storm-damaged trees may exhibit signs such as cracks in the trunk or limbs, root injuries (such as big gashes), broken or hanging limbs, or leaning branches.

A damaged limb (or limbs) can sometimes be removed to repair storm damage to trees. If necessary, the tree would be cut back to the next lateral or to the trunk. It is also important to prune any broken, small branches. A tree with open wounds may become infested by disease and/or pests. Proper pruning will speed up the healing process.

Unfortunately, when large limbs are ripped from a tree, they do not break off in a way that promotes healing, so the tree will need a lot of care. When large limbs break away, some of the trunks can be torn off as well. Depending on the severity of the damage, you may have to care for these scars for years before the tree succumbs to decay or disease.

When your tree has moderate or severe damage, a more serious course of action may be necessary. It is not always obvious to the untrained eye where hazards lie. For this reason, it's important to have your tree inspected carefully by a professional arborist. When there is a possibility that a future fall will occur, it may be best to remove the tree. In the case of a fallen tree and if the roots are damaged, the only option is to remove it.

How Much Does Tree Pruning or Removal Cost?

Size is a major factor in determining how much it costs to prune or remove a tree. Small trees tend to cost $400+ to prune on average. The cost is going to increase as you get into larger trees, like an 80-foot-tall mature oak. The cost of pruning or removing a large tree would likely start around $1,000 and go up from there.

How Can I Protect My Existing Trees from Future Damage?

Trees cannot be 100% protected from storms, but there are steps you can take to make them less vulnerable. By assessing the trees on your property, you can determine which trees are most vulnerable to storm damage. If a tree has one of the following problems, it may be more likely to fall during a storm:

  • Deadwood

  • Decaying areas

  • Problems with the roots

  • Cracks

  • Weak or hanging limbs

  • Included bark

  • Previously made incorrect pruning cuts

Taking care of your tree on a routine basis, including addressing any issues that may arise, will go a long way toward protecting it. A task like thinning out the canopy may be necessary to allow light and air into the tree and reduce its weight. In addition, it may include removing dead or damaged limbs, pruning, and possibly even installing cabling and bracing if needed.

Is it possible for me to repair storm damage to trees myself?

If there's any doubt in your mind about whether you can handle storm damage yourself, we recommend you call TreeMedics for an assessment. We never recommend anything that might be dangerous to our customers.

We have met with customers who were injured while attempting to repair a damaged tree. While we were meeting with spouses, their husbands were in the hospital due to a fall they suffered.

Pruning and removing trees are serious business. According to study after study, it's one of the most dangerous professions in the world.

Most people think about accidents occurring during a storm. However, this is not always the case. Our experience has shown that a lot of accidents occur after storms due to DIY tree repair attempts. This might be the result of a cut they made somewhere in the tree, which shifts and rolls in an unexpected way and falls on a structure, or worse, on them. There have also been horror stories about people falling while standing on their roof or leaning a ladder on a tree and falling. It is true that accidents like these occur.

The risk really isn't worth it.

A homeowner may be able to safely remove a tree only if it's already fallen and on the ground. If it's a small tree and you can haul it away, go for it. However, if the trees (or parts of them) are still standing and may fall, it's best to let the TreeMedics handle it.

Save your Trees and Protect Your Home With TreeMedics Tree Service

TreeMedics Tree Service understands storm damage is a frequent problem, especially in the Northwest. During heavy rains or wind storms, trees may fall into your house or power lines, or at the very least, limbs may be strewn across your yard. We have been providing quality tree services for three generations as a family-owned and operated business. For more information about protecting your home, please contact us. We have a team of professionals ready to assist you with any needs you may have.

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