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Domestic Storm Damage

Last winter saw some the worst storms in British history with the wettest winter on record. Wind speeds peaked at circa 108 mph in places and the Forestry Commission estimated that nearly 30 million trees may have been damaged. The Great Storm of ’87 only damaged 15 million in comparison.

Last year, the Telegraph suggested that insurance claims cost in the region of £1 billion to clear up the devastation, with a high proportion of this damage coming from trees or branches falling on to properties.

Also, your insurance company may only pay out in the event of a sudden and unforeseen event as a result of storm conditions. If, when they inspect the debris, they discover a pre-existing weakness in the tree structure,  which could have been addressed through general maintenance prior to the storm, they may not accept your claim as a result of negligence!
Additionally, if you were to make a claim against your house insurance, they may only cover the cost of removing the bare minimum to facilitate the repair required. The remaining debris is then considered to belong to the property owner, and therefore becomes your responsibility to dispose of it.

With this seasons storms being currently forecast as well on their way, it may be time to do some damage limitation of your own. Trees with a large canopy can be affected in much the same way as a sail, but once the tension on the trunk and root system reaches its peak, the tree may break up and/or be uprooted entirely.

To minimise the potential for damage, there are a few options available (and yes – one is to remove the potential threat in its entirety).

Firstly however, property owners can carry out an assessment for themselves by considering the proximity of buildings, and searching for obvious signs of damage (cracks) to trunks or branches, branches rubbing across one and another or signs of fungi. Council Tree Officers may also be able to offer advice, particularly if a preservation order is in place.

Secondly, thinning out the crown of a tree, by removing interior branches and any ivy present, will decrease the density and therefore allow more wind to pass through, as opposed to catching on the foliage (as ivy is evergreen) and increasing the potential for them to blow over. Some species can even cope with being pollarded (willow) or reduced in height (leylandii).

Thirdly, as I said above, you can remove the tree entirely – however this shouldn’t give cause to remove all trees ‘just in case’. Rather, you could re-plant with more wind resistant species or smaller specimens appropriate for the size of your property. Consider the maximum height and spread a species may achieve in time, and ensure you have at least 1.5 times that from any property (to minimise the potential of damaging property if they did uproot, and also as wind-blown trees may actually snap near the tops and be catapulted from the canopy itself!)

Basic pruning techniques are not beyond the seasoned gardener, however, when the need to access the canopy from a rope and harness arises, you should consider contracting a professional tree surgeon, who will complete the necessary work safely, accurately and efficiently whilst removing all necessary waste for you and leaving your garden nice and tidy.
Tree Tamers Tree Specialists can do just that, so give us a call on 07919544153 or email frazer@treetamers.co.uk and be confident that your trees are in safe hands. Free no obligation quotes in Lymm and surrounding areas.

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