Caring for Storm Damaged Trees and Woodlots

Courtesy of The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation 

An ice storm can leave trees and woodlots  looking devastated. Major limbs may be broken or damaged. But what at first glance may look like mortal wounds are not necessarily fatal to a tree. The good news is trees are amazingly resilient, and many recover with proper care and time. To help trees recover after a storm, follow a few simple steps:

1. Take safety precautions. Look up and look down. Be on the alert!  Stay away from downed utility lines and dangerous hanging branches that look like they are ready to fall.

2. Assess the damages. Evaluate your trees carefully. Ask the following questions:

  •  Other than the storm damage, is the tree basically healthy and vigorous?
  • Are major limbs or the leader branch (the main upward-trending branch on most trees) still remaining?
  •  Is at least 50 percent of the tree’s crown still intact?
  •  Are there remaining branches that can form a new branch structure?

If you answered “yes” to the majority of these questions, there is a good chance for complete recovery.

3. Do not try to do it all yourself. 

Homeowners should never perform tree work from ladders or around power lines. Leave dangerous work like overhead pruning or removing trees to tree care professionals who are trained and equipped to do the job safely. If you are making pruning cuts, follow pruning guidelines by making clean cuts in the right places.

4. If your woodlot has damaged and downed trees, don’t panic!

You have time to carefully consider your options. If your woods are enrolled in Vermont’s Use Value Appraisal Program (Current Use) call your consulting forester or County Forester before any major tree removal to see if you need to amend your plan.

Learn more about trees, forests and storm recovery. Visit the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation Storm Damage Center


About vtlocalroads

The Vermont Local Roads Program at Saint Michael’s College is part of the Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP), a nationwide effort financed jointly by the Federal Highway Administration and individual State Departments of Transportation. Its purpose is to provide road and bridge know-how to municipal people involved with highways. There are LTAP Centers in 50 states and Puerto Rico and six Native American locations. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations presented on this page are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of FHWA, VAOT or Saint Michael’s College. All references to proprietary items in this publication are not endorsements of any company or products. Sponsored by the Vermont Agency of Transportation, the Vermont Local Roads Program provides information, training and technical assistance to cities, towns and villages in Vermont. This is done by newsletters, seminars and workshops, distribution of publications and by response to requests.
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