Can a Tree Live After Being Blown Over?

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Heavy winds and storms any time of the year often result in blown-over trees. A tree blows over in strong winds when its roots system is not established well enough to anchor it. Some tree types, because of their natural root layout, are more susceptible to blowing over than others. Whether or not blown-over trees can survive depends on the extent of damage caused to the roots when the tree fell. However, even trees with severely damaged roots have a good chance of survival if you replant them within a few hours of being uprooted.


Assessing Damage

Trees that are most susceptible to being blown over include very young trees and trees that have constricted or shallow root systems. Slightly to moderately damaged trees respond best to corrective strategies. Trees that have their roots severely impaired, severed or damaged have less chance of surviving and are best removed entirely. The easiest way to determine the level of damage to a tree is by counting the number of fractured roots and noting their sizes. Trees with more root stubs are going to be more severely affected than those with fewer.


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Corrective Strategies

The immediate corrective strategy focuses on replanting the exposed roots, as these start to lose moisture rapidly upon air exposure, leading to tissue death in the roots. Start by shoveling out a space under the root ball to allow the tree to fall back in place. Prune away any broken roots. Tie a rope or chain around the tree, with rope or padding underneath to avoid damaging the bark, and pull the tree upright.



After the tree is straightened, stamp the soil around it firmly and water thoroughly. To help the tree get established again, use two 6-foot-long stakes on either side of the tree for 6- to 10-feet-tall trees. Space the stakes 2 feet away from the trunk. For trees that are taller than 10 feet, use three 6-foot-tall stakes. Keep the tie loose enough for slight swaying but not loose enough to allow the tree to fall easily.



Prune the tree to lighten the crown and branches in order to decrease the load and stress on the roots. This also helps to decrease resistance to high winds. Though it's best to prune during winter when trees are dormant, selective pruning or thinning such as this is OK any time of the year, and it may be necessary to save the fallen tree. Mulch the trees and provide adequate moisture and fertilizer to help it establish and grow. The presence of new foliage and stems indicate healing and root growth.



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