After the hurricane – Illinois Extension advises repair and care for damaged trees

Urabana, Ill – Summer hurricanes have damaged trees in communities across the state for more than 100 years.

Homeowners in the Tess communities, including Widder and Naperville, which were hit by the F-3 hurricane this spring, are now struggling to find the best ways to clean up after a tree is damaged and to rejuvenate trees in their communities.

In the summer, when you see the light on the green cover of the tree, enjoy the falling red, yellow and brown leaves, the trees serve as a symbol for many homeowners. Hurricanes can damage or destroy tall trees and the memories they carry.

What happens after a hurricane hits trees?

When a tree is damaged by a storm, or some other disturbance, it affects not only the surrounding area but also the surrounding trees.

“Trees are often very resistant to damage,” says Ryan Pankaw, a professor of extension gardening at the University of Illinois. But when a hurricane or disease takes over parts of the tree, it exposes other trees in the area in a different way, and you can see damage to them in less than a year.

After a disturbance, sunlight can now reach the lower part, exposing the soil and creating opportunities for new plants to fill. Those gaps can be filled with young trees or plants, but less desirable plants, like invasive weeds. Thus, due to hurricane damage, a thin layer of wood can reduce the tree’s ability to filter.

“Trees with dense valleys can be used as canvases during strong winds,” says Illinois Extension Gardener educator Christopher Entro. But thin, small, new branches have a much weaker connection than the tree itself, which makes it generally more stable.

How to select and plant trees

“The most important thing to consider when planting trees again after a hurricane is the difference,” says Extension Foster Chris Evans.

Planting a variety of new trees, especially indigenous trees, regenerates the natural ecosystem, and leads to pest issues, diseases, and invasive species.

Replacing damaged trees with indigenous peoples increases biodiversity in the area, allowing insects, birds, and other creatures to thrive in a healthy environment.

A.D. A study published in the journal Ecological Intology 2020 shows that the displacement of indigenous plant communities is a major cause of the decline of insects and birds around the world. To see if a tree is native, check the USDA approved strength zones on the plant label or online at

Study certain species to see if they are suitable for your landscape and ask a certified farmer. Some species, such as oak, are competitive.

Compared to shade beaches and maple trees, oak trees take 40% to 60% of their sunlight to compete with other plants and to kill other species.

Why replace trees?

When trees fall, it can change a community. Wildlife no longer have a nest, no place for children to play, and no shelter from the heat of summer.

Trees provide many undeserved services in the background. They create habitats for insects, birds and other indigenous wildlife, and provide water that reduces the effects of flooding. They also increase the quality of the atmosphere, reducing carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases, and global warming. During the warmer months, the trees that cover the houses reduce energy bills, and in the winter the bare branches allow the sun to heat the houses.

Of all the green areas, trees seem to have the greatest impact on people’s mental health.

According to research from the University of Illinois, people have a healthy, happy, better education and strong social connections. Green areas are associated with lower levels of depression and anxiety.

“We are meant to be human, and we feel bad when we are put in the environment,” says Pankaw.

What to do after a hurricane

If a hurricane passes and the scene is safe, the first thing you should do is clean up the broken, hanging legs. Then, look at the angle of the leaves on the branches attached to the tree, because they give the hands of a tree that can be broken and then fall off.

Avoid areas with weak power lines as they can still be active and very dangerous.

“The next step is to get a tree care professional or a certified farmer to assess the damage,” says Evans. Once damaged, they ensure that no pathogens enter the trees and that they are cut down properly.

Trimming will cut any wood or cut the broken limbs to close the wood and gradually remove the decay that can kill a tree.

“Trees don’t heal,” says Panku. Like humans, trees do not regenerate tissue. They only grow around the wound and lock themselves in place.

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What a veteran asks about damaged trees

Every summer, extension offices around the state call for trees after hurricanes.

List the common concerns and key points of the arborist about dealing with hurricane-damaged trees and preparing for the next disaster.

• George: Even if the storm hurts, is the tree healthy?

• George: Is the trunk badly damaged? The tree’s arteries are located directly behind the bark. If this vital tissue is cut, a tree will not be able to move water and nutrients into the system.

• George: Are the main legs broken? If the missing limbs are large, the tree will have a hard time sealing that wound.

• Is the tree desirable or vulnerable? Sometimes hurricanes provide opportunities to replace a problem tree.

• George: Has the overall shape of the tree still not changed? For example, if a white pine loses its central leader, the tree loses its pyramid shape and becomes a danger to the future.

Damage and maintenance of trees

• For rural areas

In forest conditions, trees provide a stable ecosystem and create habitats for all wildlife. In Illinois, 75% of the wildlife in Illinois needs a source of food and a forest for their nests, ”says Evans.

A healthy forested area requires a wide variety of tree species. It is important to follow the recommended storage size or forest size so that unwanted trees do not grow in the lower part.

It is important to avoid overcrowding and invasive species so that you can climb and cut down every tree on your property in order to have a healthier, richer ecosystem and provide habitat for vital creatures, ”says Evans.

These efforts not only keep the forest healthy but also strengthen the forest resilience. Learn more about forest management at Extension.

• For urban areas

Trees grow near other trees and are not as individual as most urban settings. Every year for a few years, a certified arborist pays for the pine cuttings needed to maintain the health of the trees. Patriots can apply cables and shields to prevent damage.

“However, if there is enough wind and enough energy, no pruning or inspection will prevent that tree from being hit by a hurricane,” says Panca. “Still, patriots can seize opportunities in your opportunities.


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