Dealing with Storm Damage to Trees

Storm Damaged tree
Given the age of the tree and the extent of the damage above, its best to remove a tree like this completely. (JohnFScott/ Getty Images Signature)

Whether or not a broken tree can be saved depends on the type of tree and the extent of the damage. Many trees—especially young ones—can recover from storm damage, just as they can recover from severe pruning. Other types of trees (including many conifers) have a hard time regrowing their rounded tops once they’ve been broken.

Without knowing the type of tree, I’d suggest the following: if the main trunk is intact, and there are some strong branches growing in the direction of the tree’s natural shape, as well as some room for more branches to grow, I’d recommend leaving it to see if it will recover.

Prune the broken limbs back to a healthy branch, making your cut just outside the branch collar. The branch collar is the raised area where the branch meets the stem, and it should be left intact. It’s usually not necessary to apply any sealants to the wound as trees have their own healing system.

If the overall shape and beauty of the tree is destroyed with no sturdy trunk or branches left, it’s less likely to ever be the tree you hoped for, so be prepared to replace it in the next planting season. Before replacing it, however, you may want to have it evaluated by an arborist to make sure.

Further Information


  1. About 2 years ago during a severe storm our Bradford pear tree broke in half leaving only the trunk. Thinking it dead we cut the stump to just below ground level intending to remove root. The tree was forgotten and we planted a red maple about 6 feet from the remaining trunk. Now the trunk has sprouted branches that are now over 6 ft tall. Will the tree ever grow from a trunk again or should the tree be removed? Should we replant the maple tree somewhere else?

  2. What is the best way to repair a split tree limb or shrub? Tape it together maybe it will grow back, or is there a dressing i could put on before i tape the limb together??? thanks

  3. One day while we were away from home, our neighbor hit and damaged two lower branches on our long needle 30 foot Pine Tree. Instead of waiting till we got home (which was the next day) he decided to cut all around the Tree about 6 – 7 feet up. Most of the lower branches were cut to the trunk. He lobbed off the branch collars and hacked up the bark. My front yard looks really bad and all he said was, “He’s sorry”. This man is a cop and he molested our tree and all he can do is say, he’s sorry. Anyway, I need to know if my tree will die because of his atrocity?

  4. My neighbors huge tree which was close to the property line but clearly on her property has fallen and created a lot of damage to many of my trees
    Who is responsible for the removal of her tree?

    • Hi, Connie! We focus on home improvement projects. It sounds like your concern would best be handled by legal counsel. Thanks for reading!


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