3 Sources Of Tree Damage You Probably Haven't Considered

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Yard trees are great for boosting the aesthetics of your property and making it more appealing to potential buyers. As such, you'll want to keep your trees in top health in order to preserve their appearance and allow them to live longer. There are a number of common sources of tree damage, however there are also a few you may not have considered: 

Storm Damage

Across the USA, hundreds of thousands of trees are damaged each year from the elements. The range of weather conditions experienced across each state is huge, so there is no "one size fits all" approach to preventing tree damage from storms. However, understanding how trees respond to storm conditions is paramount to preventing catastrophic failure. 

In states where high winds, snow and ice are common, trees are able to biologically adapt to these conditions and strengthen themselves against the unforgiving conditions. Under normal conditions, the sway caused by wind actually strengthens the trunk of the tree as it adapts to the induced oscillation motion. For hardwood trees, this development occurs on the prevailing wind side whereas for conifers this development occurs on the opposing side. 

However, if there are extreme atypical weather conditions (i.e. a storm), the tree can become permanently damaged and die. Then you will need tree removal services to remove the branches, or even the whole tree. Storms have a number of effects on trees: 

  • Blow-down - The overturning moment applied by high winds exceeds the tree's strength causing failure at the base. 
  • Stem Failure - Storm conditions exacerbate existing health problems in the tree causing them to fail. 
  • Root Failure - Adverse conditions can damage, constrain or even disease the tree's roots which breaks the anchorage at the base causing the tree to lean or fail. 
  • Branch Failure - Branches are expected to come off over time, and trees are able to adapt to this by sealing hole where the branch was situated.  However, extreme ice storms or torrential rain can leave the branches unprepared and may cause them to snap. 

Unfortunately, there are no quick remedies for these problems and your best line of defense is to ensure the trees are planted properly with adequate preventive measures in place. If you have practiced proper tree care and problems still occur, there are a few things you can try to help cure the problems.

Woodpecker Damage

Trees offer woodpeckers the perfect breeding ground where they can perch themselves and burrow happily into the bark of a large conifer. This may be good for the woodpeckers, but it certainly isn't good for your yard tree as woodpecker tree damage can cause your tree to quickly die off if left untouched. 

Woodpecker holes are very easily recognized; they are typically very shallow and appear in straight lines or small clusters. The actual damage to your tree by woodpeckers pecking isn't extensive, however these holes are essentially wounds that can disease quickly and offer a haven for insects to congregate. In extreme cases, the trunk may become girdled which can cause the area immediately above the bark to die. 

The most effective way of stopping woodpecker damage to your tree is stopping it from occurring in the first place. Consider using the following three methods: 

  • Use bird netting to keep woodpeckers from accessing your tree. 
  • There are a variety of commercial products that can be applied to the tree that make it difficult for the birds to land on the branches. 
  • Wrap the trunk in a wire mesh or cloth to deter woodpeckers from the area. 

Damage From Construction Workers

If you're considering installing a pool in your back yard or doing a spot of landscaping, consider the damage it may deal to your tree before proceeding. Many construction practices can lead to obvious tree injuries (such as broken branches or bark) however the most severe damage is often left unseen. 

Your tree's roots are situated deep underground, where they absorb moisture that keeps the tree alive and healthy. They are also vital in anchoring the tree to the ground to resist high-impact winds as described above. As such, it's important to ensure proper protective measures are in place before beginning construction. 

The most effective ways to protect your trees are as follows: 

  • Clearly mark out a "Protected Root Zone" (PRZ) that shows your subcontractors where the most vital root areas are and how to avoid them. Typically, this area is defined as the region immediately below the branches of the tree, however some roots may lie beyond this. As such, it's important to understand the type of tree you own and where its roots lie. 
  • Develop a map with the subcontractors that identifies the easiest way to access your ward without disrupting the trees. Install fluorescent fencing and "Off Limits" signs that indicate where builders can and cannot work. Before construction workers begin, make sure they understand where they are and aren't allowed to excavate. 
  • Prepare your trees well in advance. Regularly water them to ensure they remain as healthy as possible before excavation commences. Consider using some fertilizer if they are showing signs of being nutrient depleted. Additionally, prune branches that are dead or diseased in order to keep the tree in top condition prior to construction. 

As you can see from the above, it's much better to prevent damage than to remedy it. As such, you should always strive to take protective measures in order to keep your tree in top condition and allow it to live a long and healthy life. 


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