Looking outside to see your tall landscape trees still standing can be a relief after a major wind storm. Yet, just because the trees are upright doesn’t mean they are undamaged. You need to perform a careful inspection to ensure that there is no hidden damage that could lead to problems later. The key is to assess, remove, wait and watch. The following guide will show you how.

Assess

Not all damage is immediately obvious. After the storm has passed, carefully go out and visually inspect the tree. You are looking for broken or cracked branches inside the canopy, or for branches that have come off but are still hung up in the remaining branches. Also, check the trunk carefully for any signs of splitting. Finally, check the soil around the roots. Does it look lifted or disturbed? Even a minor amount of root lifting can indicate a major problem.

Remove

Removal refers to either individual branches or to the entire tree, depending on the severity of the damage. It’s best to wear head protection when removing branches. You can carefully disentangle or cut free any broken branches that are caught within the canopy. Trim back remaining branch stubs and broken branches so they are flush with the collar – which is the raised ridge of bark where a branch joins the trunk or a larger branch. If you find the task too daunting, consider contacting a tree trimming service for a little help.

Trees with split trunks can sometimes be saved, but you will need to consult with an arborist or tree service to ensure this is the case. A tree with lifted roots usually requires full removal if it is mature. Young trees can be staked until they develop a deeper root systems.

Wait

Don’t be tempted to rush out and fertilize or begin over-watering the tree to encourage a quicker recovery. Too much fertilizer too soon after damage may lead to weak, twiggy growth around the base of the trunk or from the current branches, but it isn’t likely to encourage the growth of new branches. Overwatering can be even more harmful, since it can lead to root rot and overall weaker root system. Most trees get sufficient nutrients from your lawn fertilizers to fuel recovery, and your previous watering schedule is probably sufficient unless a tree service recommends otherwise.

Watch

Keep an eye on the tree until it’s wounds from the damage have recovered. A broken or removed branch is an open wound, which can give access to pests or diseases. If you notice insect activity on your tree that wasn’t present previously, or if the tree begins to suffer from wilt, bark loss, or other problems, bring in a tree service to diagnose and treat the problem.