Reducing debris damage with proper tree care

Published: Jul. 21, 2023 at 11:59 AM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Here in Louisiana, most people know that hurricane season officially begins each summer on June 1 and that most of the damage that our homes and properties received during these storms comes from flying debris. But there are proactive ways to limit debris like damaged trees.

Sally Johnson works at the Greengate Garden Center and says, “The first basic thing to know is an unhealthy tree is a weak tree. So make sure that your trees are well watered, well, pruned, and trimmed. Look around your house, and see if there are any protruding limbs that are likely to fall around your house.”

While trees can be beneficial for your home or property by providing things like shade during the hot summer months, during a storm tree limbs can break windows, pierce roofs, and even down power lines. Sometimes strong winds and heavy rain can weaken the tree’s root systems, uprooting them and sending them crashing down on homes.

To help reduce the chance of damage you should regularly inspect and maintain the trees, especially during hurricane season, to address any developing issues that could turn the tree into harmful debris.

Michaela Lachney also works at Greengate and explained that some trees need more maintenance than others, “Trees that grow very quickly, so like Maples and stuff like that, they don’t tend to do as well in hurricanes because they’re putting all of those resources into getting to be a taller tree. So they’re not being as stable to handle wind and stuff like that...If you want a fast-growing tree, it’s great to produce fall color and stuff like that, and it grows really fast. However, it doesn’t withstand hurricanes very well, so that’s the trade-off.”

Johnson added, ”Magnolias tend to have a long tap root and are stronger and are less likely to fall down. Live oaks, which we lost so many of in Laura, tend to be more shallow-rooted and have more of a tendency to tip. And just by anecdotal evidence, I have heard that a lot of people who watered their oak trees before Laura had a lot less damage.”

One of the biggest things a property owner should address is identifying trees that look like they have been weakened or compromised.

If you’re unsure about a tree’s health or need assistance, it’s best to consult with a certified arborist or tree care professional.