Regular thinning and pruning will keep your trees safe and secure during periods of high winds. Although the tree trunk may be 24 inches in diameter, a sudden gust of wind can snap it like a twig if not properly maintained. Annual crown thinning is the best defense in keeping your tree upright during windy conditions. Thinning involves taking out those branches that cross over one another and leaving the single healthy ones to nurture and define the shape of the tree.

Next, begin by removing those minor branches that will not compromise the structure or the growth of the tree. You should be able to see through it, which means the wind can pass through it as well. A heavy canopy on a tree acts much like a sail on a boat; It will catch the wind, twist and turn the tree until it eventually becomes uprooted or breaks. A properly planted tree can become free standing in about 2 years.

Make sure the roots are not girdled or winding around the top of the container when you purchase it from the nursery. Always double stake your tree but allow for enough movement so the tree can gain strength by moving in the wind. If the tree is too tight and the guy wires don’t allow sufficient movement you may be doing the tree more harm than good. Once the tree has been in the ground for a couple years, try moving it without the guy wires. If it bounces back you’re ready to remove the stakes; if not, tie it back up and wait a while longer. It’s important to thin the younger trees as well. The less wind resistance, the more likely they will stand up and continue to grow a strong root system.

If you are unsure about tree thinning or may find this to be more of a challenge than you want, please call a certified arborist or tree specialist to perform this work for you.