Tree carePhoto by Duncan Maloney on Unsplash

Storms can do an incredible amount of damage to a tree. But while these injuries sometimes make it look as though the tree has been left for dead, often the bark is worse than the bite, and the tree will recover with the right care and attention. For instance, lost leaves will grow back, pruning can be done to remove damaged limbs, and even bark can heal if the tree is healthy.

Sometimes, however, the damage is so severe that the tree won’t survive, and it’s important to know when a tree can be saved versus when it should be removed for the safety of your family and your St. Louis home.

Storm Damage that Leaves a Tree Unsalvageable

Many different types of storm damage can doom a tree, and crown loss is one of them. The general rule to remember is this: if the tree has lost more than 50 percent of its crown—which includes branches and leaves—then chances are the tree won’t survive. This is because trees need leaves to convert the sun’s energy into food, and if the tree can’t produce enough foliage, then it won’t get enough nourishment.

Broken limbs are another problem that can pose a threat to trees after a storm. While a tree can recover from the loss of smaller limbs and branches, it may not survive if the broken or damaged limbs are large. This is especially true if the trunk itself is split or otherwise damaged.

Another issue that can threaten a tree is wounds, and the bigger the wound, the less of a chance there is the tree will heal. Although there’s no hard and fast rule for determining when a wound is too large, a good guide is to consider the size of the wound in relation to the size of the branch or limb. A professional tree service will be able to provide you with more specific details about individual wounds.

Damage a Tree Can Recover From

While significant crown loss can make a tree look sad and bare, it doesn’t necessarily spell the end. In fact, a healthy tree can generally lose about half its crown and still be able to produce enough foliage to survive. Similarly, if there’s no structural damage to the trunk, no large wounds or limb loss, then there’s a good chance the tree will survive. In fact, even if the tree has been uprooted somewhat, as long as the root system is still intact, it can probably be salvaged.

Post-Storm Tree Repair for Healthy Trees

Whether a tree is salvageable or not, it’s always a good idea to have a professional tree service in to assess any storm damage your trees have incurred. The tree service will be able to tell you for sure if a tree will survive, and will also be able to provide the necessary care to ensure the tree is able to heal properly. This includes post-storm first aid such as:

  • Pruning damaged limbs
  • Tending to wounds
  • Cabling and bracing
  • Watching for decay and pests
  • Straightening a tree that’s been slightly uprooted

With fall storms just around the corner, it’s important to know that trees can survive major storms, even if they do come away with some battle scars. Knowing what to look for after a storm can ensure your trees get the attention they need to heal, and this could extend the life of your garden by many years.

The key things to remember when assessing storm damage are how much of the crown has been lost, whether any major limbs have been lost, if the trunk is intact, and if there are any large wounds that may not be able to heal. In general, if the tree is still healthy and vigorous, then there’s a good chance it will survive. A professional tree service will be able to give you the final verdict and provide any care a damaged tree may need to recover fully.