When a storm rips through your city, it can cause devastating damage to your home and trees. In some cases, this damage can be repaired. In other cases, you will need to have the tree removed.

Below I will go through the different types of damage you can expect from storm-damaged trees and what are the best steps to repairing them.

A broken tree branch is very common and easy to fix. Depending on the size of the tree, you may need a qualified arborist to carry out the repairs.

  1. Identify broken branches and remove any still hanging in the tree.
  2. Cut the branch that has broken off back to the nearest collar.
broken tree branch after storm

Tree Broken in half

When a tree snaps in half, it can not be put back together, so you will need to decide whether to keep the tree or remove it completely. Here are some things to take into consideration.

  1. How large is the tree – The larger the tree the more difficult it is to save. Smaller trees less than 15ft can recover and go onto being large healthy trees.
  2. Where has the tree snapped? – If it has broken off the top third of the tree, then there is a good chance you can just tidy up the damage and allow the tree to continue. Just as long as there are plenty of branches below the break. If it is all trunk, you might have to remove it.

Something you need to also bear in mind is if you decide to allow your tree to continue to grow, it might not grow healthy branches as before. In a lot of cases, it will send out suckers from the bark. When these develop into larger branches they will easily snap off under their own weight and can be very dangerous.

tree broken in half in storm

Repair split tree branch

Split tree branches can be repaired for small to medium-sized trees. The repair is quite crude but does the job.

  1. Measure the diameter of the tree branch and buy several stainless steel bolts.
  2. Drill through the broken section, being sure to place a bolt for every 6 inches of split branch.
  3. Insert the bolts and tighten them until the split closes up.

These will not be removed again. The tree will eventually grow around these bolts and continue to live a healthy life.

repairing broken tree branch
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Tree Split in half

In theory, you could repair a split tree trunk, but it would depend on the size of the tree and the potential hazard to you and your family if it were to fail.

You will need to seek the advice of a certified arborist in your area to assess the extent of the damage and give you their professional opinion. You could use the same technique detailed above for repairing branches, but again it would depend on the size of the tree.

When I have come across trees with split trunks in the past, I have always recommended the customer remove the tree altogether.

tree split in half

Top of tree broken off

The good news is, your tree can be saved. Just as long it is no more than the top quarter or third at most that have broken off. And the bad news is… well there is none.

Get in touch with a local tree-cutting service to assess the extent of the damage and give you a price to remove the tree.

When to remove storm damaged trees

There are lots of cases where a storm-damaged tree can not be saved. A lot of the time it is going to be personal discretion or advice from a certified arborist.

There is no one type of storm damage that requires removal, as all trees are different and all cases are different. Even uprooted trees can be saved depending on the size and location of the tree.

The biggest thing you need to keep in mind is safety. You need to ask yourself: “If the tree were to fail, what are the potential targets”. This means, if the repair failed and the split tree were to fall, would it hit your house, a car, or pedestrians?

When an arborist makes an assessment of a tree, this is one of the first questions he asks himself. Safety of yourself, your property, and the public always comes first.

Are storm-damaged trees covered by insurance?

Homeowners’ insurance will cover the removal or pruning of storm-damaged trees. Although every insurance company has slightly different policies regarding trees, you should not have a problem getting them to come to the party.

There are a few things you will need to bear in mind though:

  1. The removal of trees does not include the stump. Don’t ask me why (well I guess to save money) but they always leave the stump. Ask your arbor tree service to charge you separately.
  2. If the tree is dead it may not be covered. Dead trees are already a hazard and can come down even without a storm. Some insurance companies consider it negligence on your behalf for not removing it sooner so may not cover you if it were to come down.
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Trees heal by the gree growing and encasing the wound, but not the way our bodies heal after a cut or break. Trees can take years just to cover a small 4-inch branch stub that has been removed.

Small trees 15 ft. or less can be re-staked and can take root again. Larger trees that have been uprooted will not take root again well enough to be stable. It is advisable to get an arborist to inspect the tree and give you advice.

In short, no. With the constant movement in the wind, the split is more likely to get bigger rather than heal. You can repair a split tree, just as long as it is not too large. The repair is done by bolting it together and leaving the bolts in there for life.

Ben McInerney
Author: Ben McInerney - Ben is a qualified arborist with 15 plus years of industry experience in Arboriculture. He ran a successful tree service before turning to writing and publishing. Ben is dedicated to providing users with the most accurate up-to-date information on everything trees.