Major storms can inflict severe damage to a community’s tree canopy in a short period of time. But with every storm, some trees survive with only minor damage.

There is a way to reduce tree damage during a storm. Home and property owners can take preventative measures long before a storm hits to help their trees grow stronger and become more resistant to damage.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, there are five suggestions for pruning a tree that will promote the growth of strong branches:

  1. Encourage good branch angles. For most deciduous trees, narrow angles between two branches signal a point of future weakness. A good rule of thumb is many deciduous trees is to keep the angles at 10 o’clock or 2 o’clock.
  2. Encourage strong branch/trunk size relationship. Ideally, lateral branches should be no more than ½ to ¾ the diameter of the trunk.
  3. Maintain a stable center of gravity. The center of gravity for a tree should be over the trunk. Remove branches on the leaning side and encourage branch growth on the opposite side.
  4. Remove rubbing branches, suckers, watersprouts and temporary branches.
  5. Don’t cut branches back to stubs. Long, natural limbs on a tree are strong and can withstand storm-like conditions. If a branch needs to be removed, cut it back to the main branch or to the tree’s trunk.

If your tree is large or you need pruning assistance, find a certified arborist to help. Visit the website of Pacific Northwest Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture

A fall windstorm in Ritzville toppled this blue spruce. Photo: Garth Davis
A fall windstorm in Ritzville toppled this blue spruce. Photo: Garth Davis/DNR.