First, consider location. For instance, under power lines use a small tree with a spreading crown, like a dogwood or crab apple. If you are looking for privacy, consider that not...

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Anyone who remembers the Inauguration Day storm of Jan. 20, 1993 (or who has heard of it!), knows well that during a windstorm, trees can be dangerous. But, like humans, they can be prepared to handle crises. If you’re replacing a tree damaged by wind, or just planting new ones, follow these tips to keep your trees — and your home and family — safe during windy winters.

First, consider location.
For instance, under power lines use a small tree with a spreading crown, like a dogwood or crab apple.

If you are looking for privacy, consider that not all evergreens are created equal in storms, and you might prefer a columnar fir instead of a long-needled pine.

Pick a good tree.

Look for a form that has well-spaced branches rather than bunched clusters of growth. Aim for a single stem rather than multiple stems. Look for a healthy root mass that is big enough to support the tree. Avoid trees where the roots circle each other in the pot.

When to replant.
A small tree correctly grown in a pot can be planted at almost any time with adequate mulch and water. Fall through spring is the best time to plant newly dug trees or very large trees.

Signs of trouble.
Look for and take care of trees leaning near power lines and buildings; large, dangling branches known as “widow-makers”; congested crowns with lots of small growth; and areas with dead wood.

Look for weak structure, such as multiple trunks and V-shaped crotches, splits in the trunk and branch junctures, and branches that are almost as big around as the trunk.

Also, pay attention to disease or rot evidence, such as fungi at the base of the tree or cavities.

Consider the soil, too. Shallow, compacted soil encourages shallow rooting and precarious anchorage in winds as the trees rock back and forth.

Wet areas can be a problem: Trees are not always anchored soundly in perpetually damp spots.

Avoiding storm damage.
Keep up with pruning, and start early, while trees are young and easy to handle. The goal is to produce a tree that has a center of gravity squarely over the trunk and a crown that lets wind pass through. Here’s how to do it:

• Prune out any dead, damaged or diseased wood and remove water sprouts (fast-growing sprouts coming from the base, trunk or a main limb). Also remove any crossing branches and branches that grow into the center of the tree.

• Tidy up any clutter that congests the center of a tree.

• Space out the framework of the tree, which might mean totally removing some branches.

• Assuming it suits the aesthetics of the species, remove lower branches when they reach about 1 inch in diameter. Keeping them in place this long helps the trunk bulk up. Removing them reduces stress on the tree.

• Prune annually and every few years thin excess branches from the crown. If you have a lot of trees, do annual pruning on a rotation system and stick with it. Remember, with young trees it’s a minor operation. When required for mature trees, it’s a job for professionals and is severe surgery for the tree.

Tree maintenance.
Mulch annually.

Many mature trees that are growing well do not need to be fertilized. If you fertilize, avoid overdoing it with nitrogen, which can encourage a heavy crown.

Do not bother to paint tree wounds. It has been shown to be counterproductive to natural healing defenses.

Try not to stake trees. If you do, do so loosely, so they can rock with the wind and be able to handle a little stress.

Source: The Louisville Courier Journal