By Steve Borel
Hurricanes and violent summer storms occur throughout the state of Louisiana during summer. Trees may be vulnerable to blowing over or dropping large branches during high wind events. Now is a good time to evaluate shade trees to make sure they are in good shape.
Look at the overall condition of your trees. Trees that have large dead branches or are totally dead should be dealt with as soon as possible. Dead branches should be pruned off and dead trees removed entirely.
A tree that is sickly, low in vigor and shows significant signs of rotten or decayed areas in the trunk may need to be removed if it poses a threat to buildings. Trees whose trunks have large cavities with extensive decay should be considered for removal because rot weakens the trunk.
Trees that are one-sided or lean significantly may need attention. Selective pruning can relieve the weight on the heavier side, balancing out the weight distribution of the canopy. After the prolonged rains associated with hurricanes, the soil may be so soft that trees topple over if the weight is not proportioned properly.
Selective thinning of the canopy can reduce the wind resistance of the tree. This can lessen the chances of its being blown over or of branches breaking. The idea is to preserve the natural shape of the tree, by thinning out branches to reduce the weight and allow for better wind movement through the tree. This should be done by a licensed arborist.
Also, look for branches that hang over the house near the roof. Although the branches may not touch the roof under normal conditions, the high winds of hurricanes and summer storms can cause trees to bend and branches to flail around considerably. These branches can cause extensive damage to the roof and generally should be removed.