Tips to Reduce Monsoon Damage to Your Trees

Typically, the monsoon season is from mid-June through the end of September. Monsoons season means increased thunderstorms, flooding, walls of dust and high winds which can cause quite a bit of damage to your landscaping and trees. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help prevent the typical tree damage and ‘windthrow’ (trees blowing over) that can occur due to the high winds.

  1. Make sure watering emitters are located at the canopy edge.
    Watering near the trunk inhibits root growth to the canopy edge causing the tree to have a weaker foundation. Wet soil near the trunk is unstable and could have trouble holding the tree in the ground during heavy winds. See page 4 of Landscape Watering by the Numbers to find a diagram on emitter placement.

  2. Apply the appropriate amount of water for your trees.
    Low water use trees should not be watered as much as higher water use trees. See pages 9-12 of Landscape Watering by the Numbers to find out how much and how often to water your trees as it depends on size, season and water use characteristics.

  3. Seasonal thinning can often contribute to storm damage and in most cases is not necessary.

General Rules for Strong Trees

  • Remove structural defects first. (Narrow angles of attachment, co-dominant stems/trunks, cracked or crossing branches)
  • Prune branches between the branch bark ridge and branch collar 
  • Do not apply pruning sealant or paint. Trees heal naturally when pruned correctly
  • Avoid removing limbs with foliage that shade the trunk’s tissue from harsh sun rays or sunburn can occur
  • Limit pre-monsoon pruning to 10-15 percent thinning and 10 percent weight reduction to branch ends
  • Focus 80 percent of pruning on the exterior canopy. Interior stripping of branches or lion tailing reduces the wind buffering capacity of the tree. It can also reduce foliage the tree needs to produce energy, heal wounds, and defend against pest and disease
  • Mature trees need less pruning, no more than 20 percent and not every year
  • Always follow the two-third rule. A tree should have 2/3 of its total height in canopy and 1/3 in the visible trunk.
  • Staking should only be done if the tree cannot stand without it. When needed, use two two-inch round wooden poles with a piece of rubber hose and wire to loosely secure it between the poles. Trees must be able to move gently in order to for their trunk to produce strong, dense wood
  • Never top a tree. The wounds produced never heal and any shoots that sprout are weakly attached just under the bark. A topped tree will never regain the strength or form it previously had.