If you have trees surrounding your home, you should familiarize yourself with the different ways they react to damage caused by the elements (and by pests). Some natural phenomena, like floods and tornadoes, can have effects on trees that are surprisingly hard to see. Others, like lightning strikes and insect attacks, have visible signs of damage. Below is a list of some of the ways trees can be damaged. If you’ve had a weather event recently or see that your trees are damaged, you’ll want to call a Best Pick tree company to help assess the situation.

Here Comes the Flood

According to arboreal scientists, flooding can damage trees in three ways: harming the soil due to water saturation; creating chronic issues stemming from the rapid change in environment; and actually toppling trees from the water’s sheer force. Among many other problems, flooding can inhibit root growth and cause rot; suffocate seeds; and rob the soil—and the tree—of precious oxygen. Soil and root systems act like brick and mortar, working together to create strength and rigidity. If the soil or the root system is compromised, disaster can follow. For example, a heavy rain during otherwise drought-like conditions can cause soil integrity to weaken, and even healthy trees can fall like dominoes. Watch out for standing water after a flood, as this can also damage trees.

Lights Out

Sometimes trees can survive a lightning strike. Trees, like people, can heal from their wounds and will show scars. However, if the lighting has reached the root system, the tree is likely dead and poses a danger to your home and the area around it. A tree professional can help you protect your trees from lightning strikes by installing a copper wire system that redirects electricity away from the root systems. If you have an older tree that would be impossible to replace and is in an area prone to lightning, you might want to consider this option as a protective measure.

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

Tornadoes can devastate anything unlucky enough to be caught in their path. The most violent of these weather events can have wind gusts of up to 300 miles per hour. Though you might think you can easily see wind damage—like broken limbs, exposed and broken root systems, and broken trunks—there are many kinds of wind and tornado damage that aren’t immediately visible. Strong windstorms can twist tree trunks, which can be very difficult to spot. This twisting can separate the wood’s fibers, weakening the tree and making it susceptible to falling. Other kinds of tornado damage include wind-stripped bark, which can leave trees open to pests and other disease, and bent or leaning trees, which can be prone to breakage.

Bugging Out

Like most plants, trees are susceptible to damage done by insects and other pests. Some insects, like bark borers, hurt trees in visible ways. A bark borer can kill a tree by destroying the phloem (the cells that move nutrients throughout the tree). Look for a ring of holes, called a girdle, if you live in an area prone to bark borers. Other pests target areas where it’s harder to see the damage. One example is the balsam woolly adelgid, which sucks out a tree’s sap, ultimately starving the tree of necessary nutrients. In addition to bark and sap, common arboreal pests can target leaves, seeds, and roots of trees.

If you’ve had a weather event like a flood or tornado, it’s a good idea to get an expert to assess your trees, even if they look undamaged. Pests can sometimes leave tell-tale signs, but they can also harm your trees without your realizing it. In either case, it’s a good idea to know just what kinds of damage can happen to trees and whom to call if you see the signs.

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Sources: American Forest Foundation; National Association of Realtors; North Carolina Forest Service; University of Georgia School of Forest Resources.

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