Trees – storm damaged
Ice, wind and snow storms wreak havoc on trees in the Upper Midwest. This document provides steps that should be taken after a storm.
- Storm damage that leaves a large tear where a limb came down, should be pruned by removing jagged and protruding wood. Make a smooth, clean cut to the extent possible.
- Do not remove large, heavy limbs with a single cut. A safe pruning cut involves three cuts. The first two cuts remove the limb and its weight; the third cut is the finish cut.
First, make a cut about one-third of the way through the limb on the underside of the branch, about one foot out from the branch attachment.
The second cut removes the weight of the branch, and should be made from the top, about two inches farther out from the first cut.
The third cut is made to neatly remove the limb stub. The cut should be made just outside the branch collar, a slight raised ring or band where the wood of the main branch and the limb merge together. For more information on the three-cut technique see the United States Forest Service publication, How to prune trees.
- Pruning paints are unnecessary, unless the wounds have occurred on an oak during April, May or June. Pruning paints may mask the smell that attracts oak wilt-carrying beetles. Cover wounds within a few minutes of pruning.
- Straightening and guying is an option for uprooted, smaller trees < 25 feet. Begin immediately after the storm by placing stakes around the tree and attaching without pulling on the tree. Don't use thin rope or wire that could damage the bark. Be sure roots remain covered and moist.
- If you need a chainsaw or ladder to prune, or are wondering if the tree is worth saving, consult a professional arborist. A list of certified arborists in Minnesota is available at MN Society of Arboriculture.
For more information, see the Extension publication Storm damage to landscape trees: prediction, preventing and treatment. Or contact the Department of Forest Resources Extension and Outreach office at 612-624-3020.
Reviewed by Mike Reichenbach 3/09