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.
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.
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
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.