Proactive Tree Care: Mitigating Storm Risks

August 17, 2021

We began the discussion of proactive tree care to ensure the general health of your trees with the intent of reducing risk to your property as well as preserving our urban canopy.  The first best thing you can do for your tree is mulch and fertilization.  Progressing from there, we introduced treating common ailments and providing structural support.  We strive to reduce unnecessary tree removal in an effort to maintain our current living canopy.  

Risk mitigation is again a priority as we continue on our proactive tree care journey.  As storm season approaches every year, clients reach out with concerns that their trees may not be “safe”.  While not every tree is predictable nor every emergency preventable, there are steps to take to better protect your home and property.

One of the largest threats to a property is dead or dying branches.  Pruning trees regularly can help clear away any dead wood that could fall through roofs, windshields or cause other destruction.  Another benefit of pruning is reducing overweight limbs, so that they are more in balance with the rest of the tree.  Overextended limbs may be more susceptible to breaking in a heavy storm.

Trees actively strive to remain standing and alive.  When they fail and fall, it is most often because they simply do not have the resources to withstand natural forces.  This is why we introduced eliminating environmental stressors as a high priority.

It can be terrifying and impressive to watch a tree move during a storm. If you have ever watched a pine tree during a particularly windy day, it is amazing how it can bend to accommodate the gusts. 

According to Dr. Kim Coder from the UGA Warnell School of Forestry “Trees sense structural stress and attempt to minimize failures through adaptive growth. Trees modify their structure over time as they are challenged by wind. Trees are biologically designed to sustain average wind loads.”

Certainly there is a limit to what winds a tree can withstand, however according to the same article, our area only sees an average of 2 wind events per year with wind forces over 50 mph. (If you want more information, this article has plenty to dive into related to storms and tree risk.) This does not mean that your trees are not at risk to be affected by wind, but it does mean that relatively speaking, our area is at a low risk for trees being blown over by wind.

Trees adapt and grow in the environment that they are given, so if they have grown in a grove, the tree may only have the capacity to withstand certain wind forces standing alone if the surrounding trees are removed. The wind force could potentially increase without the protection of a neighborly tree, therefore making it more susceptible to toppling during a storm. Keep this in mind when choosing which trees to remove. 

Finding an acceptable level of risk is a personal choice that only you as a homeowner can make. Our hope is that we can find a balance between maintaining our current canopy and that level of risk that you personally feel comfortable with. Finding an arborist that you trust that can make recommendations to help mitigate your risk and find ways to keep your trees healthy is the best way to achieve this balance.

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