Lee County Extension
How Do Trees Fall? Surviving Hurricane-Force Winds


Hurricane Charley uprooted or broke at the trunk trees of all shapes and sizes.. Many of these trees would have survived had they been pruned properly. For trees still standing after Hurricane Charley, many showed crown damage with greater than 50-percent of the branches broken.

To avoid damage from other wind events, establish an annual landscape maintenance schedule. Have each tree evaluated by a professional arborist. Treat or prune trees and palms as suggested.

For trees other than palms, pruning may be required every couple of years. This misperception to never prune trees creates a danger to all. Research after Hurricane Andrew and subsequent wind events has documented the need to prune trees for safety every couple of years. thinning out the tree’s canopy.

Proper pruning thins out a dense tree’s canopy. Proper pruning early (soon after planting) results in a sturdy, well-spaced framework of branches that resist wind damage. Maintain trees with an open framework, a leafy canopy and allows air to move freely through it.

For a stronger tree canopy, first, select trees individually for planting that already have a wind-resistant structure. Select and tag trees in a nursery that only have a single, up-right, central leader. Those trees selected should have branches with wide branching angles, should not be overly dense nor demonstrate a crown imbalance with in-growing or crossing branches.

Second, plant each tree at the recommended tree depth. Planting too deep predisposes its trunk to breaking in strong winds.

Third, provide extra care during the first year. Prune to correct flaws including broken, diseased or damaged branches. Fourth, water immediately after planting and especially through the dry season.

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