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Storm Damaged Tree Recovery

April 17, 2018

Host: Gary Bachman, Ornamental Horticulture Specialist


It’s the active season for storms and here are some tips on helping trees recover from storm damage today on Southern Gardening. 

A common myth is that the root system mirrors the top growth of a tree.  Most of a trees root system is in the top 12” to 14” of the soil.  We can see this arrangement with trees that have been blown over.  Many times smaller trees that have been blown over can be pushed back into place and recover. 

Trees are capable of healing themselves after damage from a storm, but do not heal in the same sense as we do after an injury.  The area around the injury is strengthened and sealed.  Never paint, caulk, cement, or use any other material to cover a tree wound that will trap disease organisms.  Always trim damaged branches to an even surface.  This will allow the tree to completely seal the damaged area off from the rest of the tree. 

There are many branches that will have been damaged and will have to be removed.  Never prune a branch flush with the trunk, as this provides an opening for pathogens to enter the tree.  Always look for the branch collar, a slightly raised area where the branch attaches to the trunk, and prune there. 

Consider the growth characteristics and mature size when replacing trees.  It is a big mistake to plant a fast growing tree under power lines or too near your home believing that pruning will keep the growth under control.  Remember, if you need to prune to control, it’s the wrong tree. 

For more information refer to MSU Extension publication Repairing Storm-damaged Shade, Ornamental, and Fruit Trees available from your local county Extension office or

I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening. 

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