Wind Rock And Your Trees: What You Need To Know

It's no secret that strong winds can damage your trees. Although the most visible and obvious wind damages may be broken branches in the crown, the roots can be the real concern following a day of high winds.

What Is Wind Rock?

A healthy tree has a combination of deep and spreading roots, ideally stretching out to a distance similar to the spread of the crown above. This extensive root system allows for some movement of the tree in high winds so that the gale doesn't snap the trunk. However, the tree should be anchored well enough so that the movement doesn't extend into the roots.

Roots that haven't spread well, or are otherwise damaged, won't anchor the tree very well. When the wind blows, the trunk movement will extend well into the roots so that they move as well. You may notice that the soil appears churned up around the base of the trunk, or there may be a gap in the soil around the trunk. In extreme cases, the tree will begin to lean.

Which Trees Are Susceptible?

Any tree can suffer from wind rock, but some trees are more prone to movement. Young or newly planted trees that haven't had time to produce strong anchoring roots often suffer from wind rock in the first year or two following planting. 

Mature trees tend to suffer from wind rock if one of two problems are present. The first is a weak root system, either due to poor cultural care that inhibited the formation of strong roots or from disease that is killing off roots. An overly top-heavy and densely overgrown crown can also lead to wind rock because the roots may not be strong enough to anchor the overgrowth above.

Are There Preventative Techniques?

Fortunately, wind rock can be both prevented and reversed in many cases. Prevention is as simple as anchoring young and newly planted trees with a properly installed stake, which gives them the support they need as they produce strong roots. Annual tree trims to manage the crown size in relation to root development will ensure wind rock never becomes an issue.

If wind rock has already occurred, then quick work is needed to save the tree. Your tree service will begin by thinning out the crown to reduce the weight load on the roots. They may also need to install anchors to further prevent movement as the roots recover. If disease or root rot is the culprit, though, then removal of the tree may be necessary.

Contact a tree trimming service if you have concerns about wind rock and your landscape trees.