WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Wave after wave of summer storms have
battered trees in Indiana and other Midwest states.
The extent of damage done to branches and trunks will
determine whether the tree can heal on its own, a homeowner can make repairs
themselves or if a professional arborist needs to be brought in, said Purdue
Extension’s urban forestry specialist.
“Oftentimes nothing needs to be done at all and the tree
will repair the damage on its own,” Lindsey Purcell said. “I think we tend to
overreact and believe the tree should be cut down, when what you really want to
do is try to save the tree and reduce the risk of failure, which could hurt
someone or damage something.”
Purcell describes common types of warm- and cold-weather
storm damage and treatment options in Trees and Storms , a new Purdue
Extension publication. The publication, FNR-FAQ-12-W, can be downloaded free at
Most minor tree damage can be left alone unless it poses a
danger or risk to people, Purcell said. Repairing more extensive damage depends
on the size and extent of the tree injury, he said.
About 80 percent of the damage caused by storms is to
branches, Purcell said.
“I tell most homeowners if you can’t make simple repairs to
damage from the ground then you need to call a professional,” he said. “When you
start talking about ladders and long reaches, that’s when safety becomes an
issue to the homeowner. Professional arborists know how to make those repairs
safely. You don’t want to make a bad situation worse by trying to do something
you’re not capable of doing.”
In Trees and
Storms , words and pictures are used to explain and illustrate five
common types of damage:
* Wind throw — Trees are pushed over by high winds;
* Stem failure — Weakened trunks break;
* Crown twist — Trunks suffer cracks and splits;
* Root failure — Trees lean, exposing roots; and
* Branch failure - Limbs break and hang.
Other sections cover proper tree planting and pruning
practices for reducing storm damage potential, methods for assessing damage
risks, steps to take after a storm and hiring a certified arborist.
“By contacting a certified arborist, you’re getting someone
with a recognized knowledge base that is consistent around the world,” Purcell
said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to spend more money than you
would on other tree professionals. It just means they’ve been through a
certification program to demonstrate competency on mitigating storm
If in doubt, hire a professional to do the job, he
“I’ve seen too many people get hurt trying to do things
themselves to save a few bucks,” he said.