Proper tree maintenance and tree trimming is important to preventing emergency tree damage. During Monsoon storms it is the wind that causes the most storm damage to trees, often resulting in property damage in Arizona. Keeping your trees trimmed properly can prevent a fallen tree from happening in the first place. Let us assess your trees for problems and weaknesses that can be taken care of before the damage happens. Don’t wait until the storm uproots your valuable trees that took many years to grow.
Tree pruning is also beneficial to ensure your trees do not have hanging or dead limbs that pose a threat to your property. Even for a tree that is otherwise perfectly healthy, overly dense foliage poses a safety hazard during stormy weather. A dense canopy will not allow the wind to easily pass through and the resistance to wind can and will cause branches to break during a major wind/monsoon storm. Too dense of canopy can even bring the entire tree down.
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), which is a branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, states that “Three-fourths of the damage that trees incur during storms is predictable and preventable.” Here are some defects to watch out for that make trees more vulnerable to wind and other severities of the weather:
Dead wood is unpredictable because it is brittle, and cannot give under pressure like living tree branches.
Cracks are clear indicators of potential branch failure, where there will be splitting sooner or later.
Poor tree composition (branch structure) is harder for the layman to identify. Look for excessive leaning, long horizontal limbs, crossing branches that rub against each other and create wounds, and narrow crotches (V-shaped instead of U-shaped). Multi-trunked trees need special attention and care. Two trunks or leaders that are of identical diameter and have a narrow crotch are not a good sign. To prevent splitting, choose one to be made dominant by stunting the growth of the other through pruning (called subordination).
Decay, as evidenced by fungal growth or hollow cavities, is a sign of weakness.
Pests, such as the Palo Verde borer, can exacerbate a tree’s health problems, but they typically target trees that are already sickly.
Root problems, such as stem-girdling roots, while sometimes harder to detect, have the most impact on a tree’s inability to stay upright. Keep in mind that roots are a tree’s anchor. If a significant portion of a mature tree’s roots have been crushed or cut or if the tree is still root-bound from the box it came in from the nursery before it was planted, you may consider removing the tree before Mother Nature removes it for you (without warning).
Weak roots and a thick canopy is the deadliest combination during a storm.
Here are a few more basic tips for avoiding storm damage:
Plant new trees with their mature size in mind. Do not plant in shallow soils, too close to buildings or wires, or in steep banks. Some trees are more brittle and susceptible to breaking.
Water, mulch, and fertilize the trees regularly and properly.
Prune annually (or every two to three years, depending on the variety) even while the trees are still young.
Proper pruning is your best bet for avoiding problems.
Avoid excavating around roots. If some excavation is necessary, take measures to minimize cutting or any other impairment of the roots.
Do not top trees! This common but incorrect practice guarantees eventual failure of branches.