Canadian County OSU Extension Service

Tree Care after a Storm

Tree Care after a Storm

Correct Ways to make pruning cuts to damaged tree limbs

Tree Care after a Storm


You’re probably still dealing with damage to your plants after the ice storm a few weekends ago.  Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when managing that damage and taking care of your plants. 


When making pruning cuts, make sure the cut is made at the collar of the branch.  Do not cut flush with the trunk or attached branch.  To avoid ripping the bark when cutting off branches, make a few cuts; the first cut needs to be on the underside of the branch, the second cut needs to be made a few inches further on the top of the branch, until the cut goes all the way through, and the final cut is made at the collar of the branch (see picture).




Do not pollard trees and shrubs.  It is better to cut it down to the ground than to pollard a tree.  This means the major branches are cut back to the trunk, removing much of the crown of the tree.  Pollarding is a sure sign that knowledge about proper pruning practices is lacking.  Pollarding wounds the tree and invites pests and diseases into the tree.  As well, new growth that shoots out (pun intended) of the cuts does not follow the natural pattern of the tree’s growth, causing it to look awkward and unattractive.  What’s more is that the new shoots will be weak wooded, and more likely to break in the next storm.  The new shoots are only attached to the current year’s growth on the tree, or the outer layer of the wood.  It is not anchored to the inside wood.  Vigorous shoots that grow out of the tree after pollarding are also dense, causing the tree to need pruning more often.  The dense growth also makes the tree top heavy, acting like a sail that could uproot the tree during high winds.



If there is a tear in the trunk of the tree, it is probably better to cut it down completely.  That wound will never heal over, and invites pests and diseases into the tree.  Not to mention, the tree is now weaker and will likely fall over in the next storm.  Do not attempt to patch the tear up with wound dressing or pruning paint.  This does not heal the tree, and it could lock moisture inside the tree, which can cause decay. 


If you have to hire a tree service or landscape company, make sure a certified arborist is the one working on your tree.  This means they’ve been educated on proper tree care practices, and they put that education into practice.  Also look for companies that have been around for a while.  For example, Davey Tree Expert Company is a company that has been around since 1880 – before Oklahoma became a state.  They have offices located across the U.S., including one in Oklahoma City.  Do not fall for gimmicks from “arborists” that show up at your door and pressure you into buying their service or any deal that they promise will be gone the next day.  You can find certified arborists on the Oklahoma Forestry Services website: You will probably have to use Oklahoma City as the city in the search box, because Yukon won’t have anyone listed and Mustang has one person listed.


Damage from a storm is a pretty good reason to maintain your trees yearly, to prevent such things from happening.  Annual pruning can not only save your property from damage, but also prolong the life of your trees. If you need some resources on proper pruning practices, contact our office or email me.


If you choose to replace damaged trees with new ones, think about planting a tree that doesn’t get as big, where a branch could easily fall on the house.  Also consider planting farther away from the house.  This happens often in landscaping.  Trees or large shrubs planted too closely to the house can not only subject the house to fallen limbs, but also cause cracks and unevenness in the foundation of the house from growing roots. 


For more information on this topic, please feel free to email or call me at or 405-262-0155.








Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability or status as a veteran and is an Equal Opportunity Employer. The information given herein is for educational purposes only.  References made to commercial products or trade names are with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement is impliedOklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments cooperating.










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