tree service

How To Protect Your Trees From Storm Damage?

Concerned that some trees on your property might be prone to storm damage? In this article we will explain exactly what our arborists do to reduce the chance of downed trees during a storm, and also what you should do if you’re unfortunate enough to have storm damaged trees yourself.

Will BC’s prolonged dry summer mean more trees down this winter?

A dry summer, like the one we just experienced here in BC, often spells danger for property owners ahead of the fall and winter periods. Some trees might have become more brittle or formed structural defects with the lack of water and nutrients, so we recommend that you hire a tree expert for a health inspection to determine if there is any potential risk.

There are a number of strategies that arborists use to prepare ahead of the stormy season and limit the damage caused by storms. Let’s take a look.

If you have recently been hit by a storm and have trees down on your property, please refer to our emergency tree services page for assistance.

Storm damaged tree clean up
Advantage Tree Care storm damaged tree clean up in Victoria.

4 Practices Arborists use to reduce the risk of storm damage to trees

Unfortunately there is no way to completely prevent storm damage to your trees. However, by taking some preventive measures before stormy season in Victoria, you can avoid the worst of the potential damage.

Tree Inspections 

Where trees are close to people or property there is always a potential risk of damage or injury. Upon assessment of your tree(s) there are then various techniques and practices which can be used to reduce or remove the potential risk of failure, damage, or injury. If you’re worried we highly recommend a tree diagnostics and assessment be carried out.

End Weight Reduction

This applies to branches which are over-extending past the majority of the canopy edge on broadleaved and confers, and/or on conifer trees where branches are extending with a significant amount of weight on them with a surface area that can collect snow thus increasing the weight and snapping the branch – Douglas fir are particularly susceptible to this. 

This can also apply to co-dominant stems with included bark (this gives a simple idea of what’s involved) The end/top of the stems can be reduced to lower the impact of the wind sail effect – reducing the pressure on the weak union (where the included bark is). 

A cable system can also be installed to prevent the union from opening up in strong winds.

Cabling – weak unions included bark 

Cabling systems can be used to provide additional support to trees with weak unions, this method of tree care is an option in our tool box to retain (not remove) a tree. This provides an added layer of risk mitigation when considering strong stormy winds. 

There are various different cabling systems, some which are invasive – holes drilled into the stems using wire cables and non-invasive ones which wrap around the stems using soft yet strong textiles. It is important that cables are installed in a way that allows for some natural movement and sway as if installed incorrectly they can cause a weak point in the stem.


Pruning not only helps protect your trees from common diseases, but it can also help reduce any risk of damage by storms. Having your trees properly pruned ensures that wind can blow straight through the tree’s canopy without causing damage. The danger here is that when a tree has not been properly maintained or pruned, the wind blows against the tree instead of through it, causing it to bend, snap, or if it has a weakened root system this can topple the whole tree.

Learn more: The advantages of pruning trees on your property

Emerald cedar hedges

Hedges, especially large ones are susceptible to snow damage especially where there is an ongoing build up. Emerald cedars are particularly susceptible as they have long, weak extending branches which once weighted tend to stay dropped over. We can minimize the risk of this by reducing the weaker branches, reducing the surface area for snow and in some cases we can tie parts of the hedge back giving them some additional support. 

Magnolia and other fragile trees

Magnolia trees especially the evergreen magnolia have fragile stems and huge leaves therefore very vulnerable to damage from the weight of snow. Again reducing over extending or particularly weak branches will help reduce the impact of snow damage.

What to do if you have a tree downed on your property after a storm

If you’ve got a tree down, you’re not alone. Storm damage is one of the most common reasons that homeowners need to call in a tree service.

  • Assess the area for hazards. Are their tree limbs hanging precariously about to fall? You should also check for cracks or splits in the trunk. Is the tree leaning on the home, or close to power lines? Don’t put yourself in harms way!
  • Are you insured? Contact your insurance company and see if you are covered.
  • Is it a protected tree under Tree Preservation Bylaw? Check out what trees are protected in Victoria BC
  • Take pictures of your storm damaged trees and damage to your property
  • Consult a professional before you begin removing or pruning the impacted trees. Caution is advised if using ladders and chainsaws. An Arborist will use safety techniques like cabling and bracing to secure dangerous limbs and reduce any further damage.
  • Damaged trees are not written off. Most trees have amazing capacity to recover and come back to life which a little support and TLC.
  • Have power lines been hit? If yes, keep a safe distance. Contact BC Hydro at 1-800-BCHYDRO (1-800-224-9376) if trees or branches interfering with power lines

Parting words

Victoria and the Gulf Islands are prone to annual storms which can cause significant strain on trees. Therefore, we highly recommend that post storm assessments are carried out on your trees. Even if your tree survived damage this time round it may have been weakened, so to help minimize the risk of potential future damage it is beneficial to have your trees assessed after a storm please feel free to contact us with any of your tree service needs.

Preparation and being proactive is key, like with many things in life. If you are concerned that trees on your property are fragile and might be hazardous, please give us a call. We’ll arrange an onsite visit and we’ll talk you through your options.

What equipment does an arborist use?

Before any tree work commences all equipment is maintained and checked that it is fit for purpose and each crew at Advantage Tree Care will carry out a job site safety assessment identifying the work involved, tools to be used and any specific site risks or hazards and an appropriate rescue plan in the event of an accident or emergency.

First Aid, PPE and Rescue

Along with trained first aid personnel and first aid kits, a spare rescue climbing kit goes out with each crew so that they know in the event of an emergency there is the correct equipment available and accessible for rescue.

Consulting Arborist
Team meeting before work commences

PPE – personal protective equipment 

The typical PPE equipment arborists use include;

  • helmet
  • ear protection
  • eye protection
  • chainsaw pants (link clogger)
  • boots

PPE is essential equipment for a safe and effective day at work, tree surgery is a high risk job. A lot of the machinery we use produces sound levels that without protection could cause severe hearing damage or loss. There are risks of being cut by saws, being crushed or pinned by machinery or large logs and multiple falling hazards.

Looking for tree care assistance in the Greater Victoria area? Contact us to get started. Get a Quote->

Saws & Pruners

Most of the work a climbing arborist performs involves the use of cutting tools from small hand pruners, pruning saws to top handle chainsaws and then to the large chainsaws for processing massive timber

Over the years the tools and technology has evolved and today you will see more arborists using battery powered chainsaws (link to Husqvarna website). These are for the most part more enjoyable and user friendly due to the fact that they do not produce the same level oof noise as a gas powered chainsaw and they also do not emit fumes or have a hot exhaust which can be a burn hazard for the climber.

See Related: What are the main advantages of tree pruning

Climbing equipment

In order to access a tree safely and efficiently a climber will need ropes and a harness along with other hardware to create a complete climbing set-up. There are a variety of techniques and pieces of equipment to access and move around a tree allowing the climber to make the most efficient choice depending on the tree species and whether the climber is pruning, removing or installing a cable system in a tree.

The bare essentials for climbing equipment are;

  • Climbing rope
  • Climbing harness
  • A form of Prusik (rope or mechanical) to hold the climber in position and allow them to progress up the rope (tree)
  • Carabiners to connect the climbing system together and to the climber.
  • A lanyard which is essential when making any cut within the tree as a second point of attachment to the tree for working positioning purposes and as a safety line incase the climber’s main climbing line were to be cut, thus preventing a catastrophic fall.
InTree Media arborist photo shoot for Clogger

Spurs, or no spurs

You may have seen climbers wearing spurs, spikes, climbing irons, gaffs. These are a useful piece of equipment for arborists. However, it is very important to consider that spurs puncture through the bark and cambium layers of a tree leaving multiple holes in the tree which are potential weak spots for pests or diseases to attack the tree cause poor health.

Spurs should only be used when removing a tree as in all other tree care operations it is essential to protect tree health which is where non-invasive climbing techniques are performed using ropes, ascenders and low impact climbing practices to access and move around the tree causing minimal damage.

For those of you that want a more detailed look at equipment specifics check out this article by

climbing spurs used by arborists

Chipper and truck

In order to manage and remove debris from the job site, a truck and chipper make for very effective and efficient tools as they can reduce down very bulk branch, wood material into much more easily manageable and transportable product which can also be reused as a mulch for gardens, yards pathways and other applications helping minimize the “waste” as a result of tree work. If you are looking for Woodchip in your area you maybe interested in an app GetChipDrop, which links residents looking for Woodchip with arborists providing Woodchip or firewood for free.

ATC technician operating woodchipper
Advantage Tree Care high quality tree service company in Victoria BC
Advantage Tree Care truck – tree service company in Victoria BC

Clean up equipment

At Advantage Tree Care, we believe that once the job is complete the way the site is left needs to have the same care and attention that the tree work received. Therefore, it is essential to have effective and efficient clean up equipment such as rakes, blowers, bin, tarps and shovels leaving your Client’s property looking clean and tidy is part of providing high quality, professional tree care services.

Need help taking down a tree on your property?

Advantage Tree Care are your local tree arborists in Greater Victoria BC. For all your tree services needs in Victoria, Saanich, Oak Bay, Langford, and Sidney, get in touch with us for a quote.

Can I cut down a tree on my property?

Everything you need to know about cutting down a tree on your property. 

It depends! Most cities have tree preservation bylaws in place to protect some tree species and developing trees. Generally speaking you will need a permit to take down a protected tree and to be approved you’ll need to meet specific criteria. 

If a tree on your property is not protected by the city. It is always advisable to consult with a certified arborist to determine whether tree removal is actually necessary. There could be other ways to save your tree using techniques like pruning, cabling and bracing. 

Let’s explore some more of the questions around removing a tree on your property. 

Can I remove a tree from my property?

For the most part you’ll need a permit to remove a tree on your property, as most Greater Victoria region city bylaws are in favour of preservation where possible. 

If you want to take down a tree there are a number of factors that come into play like; the size of the tree, proximity to your home, it’s condition, and whether it’s deemed hazardous.

First, find out who you need to contact. The City of Victoria, Districts of Saanich and Langford etc, all have a separate set of regulations and application process. Let’s start with the City of Victoria. 

The Victoria Tree Protection bylaws

The purpose of the Tree Protection Bylaw is to provide for the protection and preservation of trees on private property, including those that are undergoing development. If you would like to prune, remove, or work in the protected zone, a permit may be required. 

What are the conditions for Tree removal in Victoria? 

The same tree protection bylaw outlines the conditions where a tree permit may be issued to cut or remove a bylaw protected tree. For instance, when:

  • a tree is considered hazardous and the risk cannot be mitigated using other methods
  • a tree is causing serious damage to your property
  • a tree is located within the building envelope defined in the issued development or building permit
  • a tree is dead, dying, diseased, or presents a hazard

Learn more about the conditions you need to meet for removing a tree.

See related: Should I Remove a Tree – Pros and Cons

What classifies as a protected tree?

You may need to apply for a tree permit if you are planning to prune or remove a protected tree on your property. Protected trees include:

  • A tree with a diameter over 30 cm
  • A hedge that contains any single stem with a diameter over 30 cm
  • Garry Oak (Quercus garryana), Arbutus (Arbutus menziesii), Pacific Yew (Taxus brevifolia) or Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) over 50 cm in height measured above natural grade
  • A replacement tree
  • A tree that is protected by a restrictive covenant in favour of the City
  • A tree of any size that is on a slope where the slope grade is greater than 33 per cent over 10 metres
  • A tree of any size that is within 15 metres of the natural boundary of a watercourse

Are arbutus trees protected in BC?

Arbutus trees are protected in the city of Victoria and Saanich. They cannot be removed without special permits, which may be provided to remove dangerous trees.

Are Garry oak trees protected in BC?

In BC, Garry oak is not grown for timber production; in fact, it is considered an endangered species as it grows mainly on private lands which are being developed for urban dwellings.

What tree species are protected?

Trees Protected – when at least 2m tall or 4cm in diameter:

  • Arbutus
  • Garry Oak
  • Pacific Dogwood
  • Pacific Yew

Trees Protected when- diameter at breast height (1.4m) is 30cm or more:

  • Douglas Fir
  • Grand Fir
  • Big Leaf Maple
  • Western Red Cedar

What about tree pruning?

Generally speaking you do NOT need a permit to perform basic tree pruning on a protected tree when done in accordance with sound arboriculture practices. However, there are some special cases where pruning might require a permit. 

Are you planning to prune: 

  • Branches with a diameter >10 cm 
  • More than 25% of the total live foliage and bud bearing branches?

If yes to either, then a permit is required. 

Also Read: The Advantages of Pruning Trees

In Saanich, you will require a Tree Cutting Permit when pruning a:

  • Significant Tree;
  • Tree protected via a Covenant;
  • Tree’s root system; or to
  • Perform pruning that meets the definition of “altering” a protected tree (as defined in the Bylaw).

Tree Permits in your City

The ATC has put together a great resource on tree permits in Victoria. Please navigate to that page for more information on permits, what you will need and how to apply. 

The Verdict?

If a tree is NOT protected by the city bylaws, then yes you are allowed to prune or remove that tree. 

However, most trees in Greater Victoria fall under that “protected tree” category, so more often than not, you will need to complete a tree permit application.

If you live in Saanich, learn how you can apply to cut down a tree on your property. Langley residents should refer to Langley City Bylaws

Your best source of more information on this topic is going to be the What You Need to Know About the New Tree Protection Bylaw PDF, created by the City of Victoria

Should I remove my tree? Pros and Cons

One of the questions that we are commonly asked is whether or not tree removal is a good idea. The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, and it is important to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision

At Advantage Tree Care, we understand that trees are an integral part of our ecosystem, that’s why maintaining local trees and urban forests within our city is so important. 

If you are concerned about a tree and think it needs to be removed please contact us and we will arrange an onsite visit to provide a free assessment of the situation and offer you practical advice about the most effective way to move forward. 

Do I actually need to remove the tree?

It could be that your tree is encroaching on your property, either leaning on it, or growing into a hazardous position and you think removing it is your only option. 

Sometimes it is possible to carry out remedial tree work so as to save the tree, which may also turn out to save you money. We understand the value of trees in our environment from both aesthetic and habitat point of view. Removal of any tree is always a last resort. Pruning and other options such as cabling and bracing are always considered first in order to mitigate the risks of the unhealthy tree.

Is the tree a potential hazard?

Just because a tree may pose a risk or hazard, it does not necessarily mean that the whole tree would need to be removed. Depending on the situation there are several options to save the tree, through carrying out preventative maintenance such as pruning of hazardous limbs, weight reduction pruning, as well as cable and bracing. A thorough tree risk assessment will be able to identify your options and costs.

When tree removal is warranted

There are a few scenarios when removal of a tree is acceptable. For instance: 

  1. if the tree is potentially dangerous to the property owner or the general public (when other mitigation options are not possible). 
  2. If the tree has picked up a disease and is dying
  3. if the tree is causing, or will in the near future cause, structure or infrastructure damage 

So what’s the best course of action? 

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. The decision of whether or not to remove a tree should be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all of the relevant factors.

With that said, here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of tree removal


  • Removing a tree can open up your yard, making it seem larger and more spacious. 
  • It can also increase the amount of sunlight that reaches your home and garden, which can be beneficial for plants. 
  • In some cases, tree removal may be necessary in order to protect your home from storm damage. 
  • If a tree is diseased or dying, removing it can prevent the spread of disease to other trees. 


  • Tree removal can be expensive, costing thousands of dollars depending on the size and type of tree.Negative impact on the environment.
  • Trees provide habitat for wildlife and help to improve air quality, so removing them can have a negative impact. 
  • trees can add value to your property as they are widely sought after, therefore, removing them may impact the value of your property

Who’s responsible? 

As a property owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that your trees do not pose a risk to people and property. If you or a neighbour is concerned about the health and safety of a tree, it is recommended that you commission a certified arborist to carry out a tree risk assessment to determine the potential risks and to identify what work can be carried out to help mitigate the risks.

Assessing for safety

As qualified arborists, when we assess trees we are able to begin to understand more about the tree and how much risk it poses to public safety based on its location and general health. Changing environmental conditions, for example, change in soil conditions through drought or excess water logging can have significant impacts on a tree’s health and stability. 

Pruning instead of removing

Tree pruning can be a great alternative to tree removals. The goal is to retain as much of the natural environment as possible, and pruning can help prevent unnecessary tree removals within our beautiful communities. There are a variety of techniques to pruning depending on the given scenario; Structural pruning, Restorative pruning, Tree reductions, Tree thinning & more

Pruning is also especially useful when we are dealing with protected tree species like Garry Oak or Arbutus. 

See Related: What are the main advantages of tree pruning

What about tree permits?

There is a good chance that your tree is protected by city bylaws, if it’s been around for a while. Learn more about tree permits and bylaws in your district. 

The Verdict?

Natural light, aesthetics, property value, cost of removal, dangerous trees, sick trees, trees encroaching on your property – are some of the many things to consider!

This is why tree removal is a tricky subject. On the one hand, trees can provide a number of benefits, including shade, privacy, and beauty. On the other hand, tree removal can be expensive, and it can also have a negative impact on the environment. 

Have questions? Need Help?

While we do remove fallen, damaged, or sick trees, and get rid of tree stumps, we are really a “Tree Care” company. This means maintaining and caring for your trees to extend their lifespan.

The Advantage Tree Care team offers a number of tree care and arborist services to residents all over Greater Victoria and Saanich. From tree removals and pruning, to health inspections and emergency tree services, we’ve got you covered.

How much does it cost to remove a tree in Victoria?

If you’re thinking about removing a tree, the first question you probably have is “how much does it cost to remove a tree?”

The cost of tree removal can vary depending on a number of factors, including the size and location of the tree, as well as the complexity of the job.

Generally speaking, smaller trees can be removed for a few hundred dollars, while larger trees may cost several thousand dollars to remove. In BC you should anticipate paying between $750 and $4,000 for tree removal services and in some circumstances you could be looking at paying significantly over $4,000. 

Factors affecting the cost of Tree Removal

The most important factor after the size of a tree, in determining the cost of tree removal is access

  • Are there hazards, obstacles, valuable property that prevent or hinder ease of access? 
  • Is the tree itself hazardous to access, is the tree alive or dead and does it have any compromised limbs? 
  • Does it require specialized machinery to dismantle and remove the wood? 
  • How close is it to power or service lines? 
  • How close can the chip truck get to the tree floor debris removal?
  • Is there a long distance to have to move the wood once it is on the ground? 

All these factors play into the cost associated with tree removal.

Corners should not be cut when removing a tree. As a result, it is important to get a quote from a qualified tree removal service before having any work done. 

How do we price up our Tree Removal jobs?

In short, these are the factors that we use to determine the costs of a tree removal project 

  • Tree species, height, and diameter 
  • Ease of access
  • On-site hazards and safety concerns
  • What equipment is needed
  • Do we need to consult with the city

Can we help?

Advantage Tree Care provides a wide range of tree services for residential and commercial clients throughout Greater Victoria. We work with all tree removal projects and sizes, from entire site clearance operations through to individual and complex tree removals, please contact us to discuss your tree removal requirements. 

What you need to know about hiring a tree service company

When it comes to the tree care and the tree service industry, there are a few important facts to check out before hiring a company to do any tree work on your property.  Here is a quick breakdown on our top three facts to get answered when looking to hire a tree service company.

1. Certified Arborist

Check to see if the tree service company is certified through the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) and sufficiently qualified to perform the work at hand. Checking this information will help give you confidence that you are employing a professional firm that will carry out the tree care to the relevant quality standards, whilst maintaining a safe working environment. ISA Certification numbers can be obtained before works.

2. Insurance

Most tree service companies you’ll find will be fully insured but it’s always a good practice to double check their paper work for the correct coverage and that it is up to date. Please feel free to contact us  for further details.

3. Experience in the Tree Services Industry

The experience of the tree service company is important for both the safety of your property and general public and the workers themselves. It is also important when it comes to the ongoing health, safety and aesthetics of your trees. Unless you have got a personal recommendation it is worth spending some time exploring the company website and asking around for references. You want to ensure that you are in safe, professional hands.

With Advantage Tree Care you can rest assured that we meet all the requirements listed above.  We’re a full service tree care company that offers a wide range of services to fit your every need.  If you would like to talk with us to find out more or to ask for references give us a call today.

Why work with an ISA certified Arborist?

By choosing an ISA certified arborist (like Advantage Tree Care), it means that you’ve got quality workmanship and experience on your side as well as extensive theoretical and practical knowledge of tree health, safety, and management.

1. Safety

There are a number of elements to operating a safe worksite. On top of the relevant insurance, risk assessments and work safety procedures, we understand that one of the most important factors to a safe work site is a happy and healthy team.

2. Rigorous Training Standards

Certified arborists are skilled, educated, and are held accountable to ISA industry work standards. As a company we are always keeping up with current techniques and training to ensure a healthier and safer workplace for our team and clients

3. Specialized Equipment

As ISA Arborists we have specialized equipment which allows us to be dynamic and versatile when it comes to handling a variety of technically challenging jobs. This equipment also helps with risk assessments and identifying potential hazards prior to starting each job

At Advantage Tree Care we have a variety of tree care services available for residential and commercial customers, including tree pruning, stump removal, and emergency tree services. Get in touch with your local Arborists in Victoria for a quotation.