Trees are such an integral part of our world. We name streets after them, lounge under their shade, swing from them in our youth, and eat fruit from them. Even part of the quintessential American dream is to live on a quaint tree lined street.
Trees however need to be protected from nature’s elements like strong winds and storms that can batter our Massachusetts coastline.
From hurricanes in the summer and fall to nor’easters in the winter months, New England is known for the storms that can wreak havoc on our area. Trees can be especially vulnerable to the storms experienced rather regularly.
Let’s take a look at how storms can impact trees and some precautions homeowners can take to protect these essential parts of our ecosystem.
One of the more common sights after a strong storm has blown through our state, is to see trees that have toppled, ripping the roots right up from the ground.
Most trees can handle a normal amount of flexing in the wind. Sadly, trees that have root damage due to pests, nearby construction, a shallow root structure, or an unestablished root system such as those found in newly planted trees.
These root issues usually go unanswered and don’t cause a major problem until a strong wind from a storm puts too much stress on the roots.
Think of a tree like a sailboat. The top leaves and full canopy of a tree act in a similar way to a sail on a sailboat. They catch the wind and cause the object (either a boat or a tree) to move and sway with the wind. Unfortunately, trees can not move themselves to where the wind directs them to go, like a sailboat can. Instead, if the wind is too strong and the root system too weak, the tree could topple and land on your home, car, or across a street.
Having an arborist inspect your mature trees regularly can help determine the health of your root system and the tree itself.
Another common type of injury that can occur during New England storms is limb breakage. This can happen high in the canopy and lower, near the trunk.
Decaying wood from fungal infections, pest infestations, or damage caused by a human improperly pruning, can create a scenario where branches can break under the stress of a storm.
Concern about where a large, heavy limb may land is a primary concern especially if the tree is near any structures like a garage, shed, or your home. What should also worry homeowners is the weakening and vulnerability of the tree to further pest invasions and fungal growth due to the limb breakage.
Depending upon the strength of the storm that blows through our region, homeowners may aso worry about structural damage that may impact a tree. Having an arborist inspect your trees before and after a big storm might be a good idea, especially if any of your trees are already showing signs of structural vulnerability such as leaning to one side or improper and excessive pruning making a tree look like it may have more weight on one side than the other.