Keeping your trees healthy and peace of mind in the wind storm

Keeping your trees healthy and peace of mind in the wind storm
These 5 spruce aren’t near any infrastructure but will provide a value windbreak for this open landscape.

There are some vital methods for keeping the urban canopy strong and healthy. One reason we want to do that is to prevent dangerous or costly damage to property and infrastructure from fallen specimens or limbs during the intense wind storms we get during the turns of seasons. Gusts can reach over 100km/h which can make weak trees susceptible to damage. Prevention comes during all aspects of the tree’s life.

  1. Picking the best tree to plant in your landscape design
  2. Best planting practices
  3. Maintaining optimal growth and health


Picking a solid tree

Firstly, if you are concerned about damage to infrastructure near any trees you are going to plant you should avoid these most brittle species altogether:

Silver maple (Acer saccharinum)

Silver maples are prized for being quick growing trees, if you want to provide shade and form quickly. But this makes their limbs more brittle. Their potential 80′ mature height, with overreaching limbs, makes them a poor choice for planting anywhere near power/data lines, any homes or buildings.

The maturing population of urban Toronto silver maples has been extremely costly during wind and ice storms in recent years.

Willow (Salix sp)

Willows are best grown in low lying damp areas as their powerful, water hungry roots will stay there. They grow quickly and break easily. Broken limbs are one of the trees reproductive strategies, since they can sprout roots. If you are planting willows near any infrastructure, consider only dwarf and hedging varieties. These will require regular maintenance and pruning to keep their form and not turn into tall specimens easily prone to breaking.

Eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides)

Unless you are into riverbank restoration or feeding your livestock, stay away from the Eastern cottonwood. Another fast growing, brittle tree. It works well as a native specimen, for riverbank restoration, or commercial purposes, but it leaves branch debris constantly and is prone to breakage during any windy weather. Keep away from your home, walkway, car parks, driveways, buried and exposed power lines to save on headaches in the future.


The species you plant on your property have to be carefully considered. There are concerns with shallow roots, invasiveness, brittleness and placement of different large plant species. Part of the design process is determining which ones will provide the environment you desire, but with long-term safety and savings in mind. Smaller spaces usually demand smaller or dwarfing varieties.

There are many reasons you would want a large shade tree, and with proper maintenance you can have one near your home but make sure to choose a species suited to your soil type, wind exposure, sun exposure conditions that also has strong limbs.

When picking a variety at the nursery, make sure you bring home a healthy specimen. Pick young trees that have a strong leader. Accidental damage to especially young trees can happen and new leader branches will take over, but this will always make a weak point in the tree, it will be much more susceptible to splitting in the damaged location.

Best planting practises

Planting and mulching a tree properly will ensure their long term health. Plant a suitable species with a good dose of water and compost in the hole to give it a strong start. When you mulch, always avoid mounding around the base of the tree which will encourage mounding roots above the soil line and create a susceptibility to overturning in high winds.

Newly planted trees should be watered daily for two weeks, and weekly for several months after (with more during droughts/heatwaves)  to ensure strong root development to keep that tree in the ground for decades to come.  For young trees, use 6 gallons of water or leave your hose near the base with a low trickle for 15min. You can also fill a Treegator bag that slow releases the water for you.

If the tree is in an exposed windy area, a newly planted tree can be staked properly for a maximum of one year. Proper staking means, at least 2” away from the tree and using soft materials around the trunk. Leave some play in the tie because some movement in the wind helps develop a strong trunk.

Keeping you tree strong over time

Keeping your tree strong over time means knowing your tree, taking care of it and having a certified arborist on hand for consultation and maintenance once it gets too big to handle safely.

Keep your tree watered and mulched to prevent dieback of branching and root systems. At least 4” of mulch, in a donut around the dripline of your tree, should be maintained at all times. Knowledge of a tree’s susceptibility to disease or pests will help to nip problems in the bud! and help keep the specimen to maturity. Strategic pruning when young will determine the tree’s future growth habit and make it at home in your landscape. Long-term pruning is something that must be considered for the later decades of the tree’s life.

A healthy tree that is routinely maintained is far less likely to get a disease or infestation, suffer dieback, or cause damage during extreme weather.

Our team of professionals can help integrate beautiful trees into your landscape design that will stand the test of time and weather. Contact us if you have any plans, need maintenance or clean-up of your property today.