Storms are here. How to protect your trees

Wind with drenching rains can damage or topple some trees. Photo: DNR
Wind with drenching rains can damage or topple some trees. Photo: DNR

The storm that moved into western Washington last night is bringing plenty of moisture and wind. The combination of soggy ground and strong winds can spell bad news for some trees–weak branches can snap, dead limbs may fall and, in extreme cases, shallow-rooted trees can topple, but let’s not panic. The good news is that most trees are well-adapted to the conditions and will weather this storm.

Proper pruning–we recommend arborists certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA)–in advance of storms increases the resilience of your trees but what can you do after the storm?  Check out our tree tips  

DNR urban foresters urge caution in the aftermath of a storm. Storm-damaged trees may have broken limbs that can fall later or come into contact with power lines. Once the storm is over, take a look at your trees. If you see anything unusual, like hanging limbs or newly mounded soil, it is wise to have your trees inspected by an ISA Certified Arborist who can provide a recommendation for any necessary follow-up work.

If you need help with storm clean-up, don’t hire just any tree care service. DNR offers these tips to consumers seeking a tree service company to deal with storm-damaged trees:

  • Hire a company that is licensed, bonded, insured and employs ISA Certified Arborists. Although Washington requires tree service companies to register with the state, they are not required to adhere to proper pruning standards or demonstrate knowledge of industry best practices in order to obtain a license.
  • Get estimates for tree work in writing; this helps to reduce confusion over what services will be rendered when, and how much they will cost.
  • Beware of ‘door-knockers’; their low prices may be enticing but could prove costly in the future. Most reputable companies have business cards, websites, branding and logos, and uniforms that represent a professional level of service.
  • Never top trees. It cost more in the long-term, it’s unsafe, and shortens the life of a tree. Proper pruning costs less, helps to reduce storm damage and helps trees live longer.
  • Ask for references, and take time to select a reputable company. Avoid hiring anyone who will top a tree.
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