Preventing further tree damage

Windstorms and ice/snow-storms strong enough to tear limbs off trees can be a problem across Louisville. Cottonwoods, poplars, willows, ash, and elms are particularly susceptible to this problem because they have soft and
brittle wood.  With high enough wind speeds or heavy ice/snow loads, no tree species are risk free.  The tremendous leverage that wind and snow exerts on tree limbs causes various types of damage which typically include broken tops out of conifers such as spruces and pines to torn and twisted limbs on deciduous trees.  This type of damage
rarely heals well by itself, which makes immediate pruning essential if the tree is to be saved and allowed to regain its former beauty.

Type of damage
In each case it is important to properly treat the different types of mechanical damage a storm can cause to give the tree a chance to properly recover.  The first goal of pruning injured branches is to minimize the amount of woody tissue exposed to the air.  Open wood is an invitation to pests and pathogens to enter the tree and further damage it. Injuries cause by twisted and broken branches need to be trimmed in such a way that the tree is able to heal over the wound as quickly as possible.

The jagged injury created by a broken branch will heal very slowly since new bark has to grow over the injured area from the surrounding healthy bark.  Any kind of irregular surface will act as a barrier to this new bark growth (called a callous).  A smooth surface made by a proper saw cut will allow bark to cover the exposed wound much more quickly.  It is equally important to prune branches back to an area of healthy tissue that will remain alive.  If a break occurs near the main tree stem or close to a larger branch, the broken branch should first be removed to reduce the weight and leverage on the healthy wood.  Next, the branch should be trimmed back close to the main stem at a slight outward angle to ensure that enough healthy tissue surrounds the cut to promote healing.