Intense storms rolled through last night and did a lot of damage in Minneapolis. 250,000 customers are without power and they say it will take days to get it cleared.

Ominous sky….the rain is swirling. Seems like good things can't come of this.

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The majority of the havoc that summer storms wreak on your landscapes will be with larger trees. There are two ways that storms damage your trees.

They can topple over, roots and all…

…or branches can break off of trees at weak points.

And The Wind Blew

What to do after a storm.

  1. Safety. This is number one concern. Someone (tenant, landscape contractor, tree vendor, consultant (**cough**) or yourself) needs to visit the property and determine the level of damage.
  2. Contact your trusted contractor immediately to let them know you need work done.
  3. Determine your level of urgency. If damage is widespread, initially you should concentrate only on getting buildings open, branches and trees cut up and moved to the side and any safety hazards mitigated.
  4. Hold off on any non-essential work because immediate assistance is expensive and it helps your contractor prioritize. Within a few days, you’ll need to get the property cleaned up. Tactics for this will differ based on the type of damage.
  5. If there are simply small branches and twigs that have fallen, let your maintenance contractor know and they can pick them up on their normal weekly mowing day.

ELC offers Emergency Property Audits to immediately check for storm damage.

Trees toppled over?

This usually only happens in conjunction with prolonged, heavy rains. The ground is saturated and the tree roots break loose from the wet soil and can no longer hold the tree in place.

There is also a crazy phenomenon called root girdling, where trees – usually 20-30 years old – have a root growing around the trunk constricts the growth at the base and dramatically weakens the tree. This is usually seen in trees planted from containers where the roots were circling the pot when it was small and the contractor didn’t cut them at installation.

  1. There is unfortunately no fixing this. Uprooted trees can many times damage buried lines and displace sidewalks, asphalt and concrete with the roots.
  2. The entire tree and root structure must be remove and property disposed at an organics recycling center to create mulch or compost.
  3. The next step is repair. Any remaining large roots will need to be ground out, holes will need to be filled with soil, a new tree planted and the area seeded or sodded.

Broken branches

This is the easier issue.

  1. Safety is again paramount with broken branches. This is a little more difficult because branches don’t always fall out of trees. You need to look in the air and inspect for broken branches hanging in trees that could fall and hurt people and property.
  2. Many times, trees could split down the middle or lose a major lead branch. You’ll need to determine with your contractor whether or not to remove the entire tree.
  3. Broken branches hanging in trees will need an experienced tree company to climb the tree or use a bucket truck to remove.

Lightning Strikes

Lightning strikes are handled very similarly to broken branches. Work with you contractor to determine the level of damage to the tree. Many times – especially with thin-barked trees – lightning travels through the outer bark and can explode the tree from the inside.


The other thing to think about is preparing for major storms.

  1. Removal. There are multiple varieties of trees like ash and silver maple that are known to be weak trees and commonly cause damage. Remove them from high-value areas and replace with more resilient varieties.
  2. Smart growth. Many trees fail due to poor growth patterns. Trees with multiple leaders or narrow branching angles should be corrected when they are young so they don’t split in heavy winds later on.
  3. Have a plan. Trusted contractors are critical in times of immediate need. Have a trusted landscape contractor or arborist that you can call when you need them.

Hope you survived the storms!!