Dealing with Storm Damage to Trees
By: Julie Day
I have a young tree growing in front of my home, and a windstorm came through and broke off the top of the tree. What should I do? Will it still grow? -Joe
Whether or not a broken tree can be saved depends on the type of tree and the extent of the damage. Many trees—especially young ones—can recover from storm damage, just as they can recover from severe pruning. Other types of trees (including many conifers) have a hard time regrowing their rounded tops once they’ve been broken.
Without knowing the type of tree, I’d suggest the following: if the main trunk is intact, and there are some strong branches growing in the direction of the tree’s natural shape, as well as some room for more branches to grow, I’d recommend leaving it to see if it will recover.
Prune the broken limbs back to a healthy branch, making your cut just outside the branch collar. The branch collar is the raised area where the branch meets the stem, and it should be left intact. It’s usually not necessary to apply any sealants to the wound as trees have their own healing system.
If the overall shape and beauty of the tree is destroyed with no sturdy trunk or branches left, it’s less likely to ever be the tree you hoped for, so be prepared to replace it in the next planting season. Before replacing it, however, you may want to have it evaluated by an arborist to make sure.