Arborist Advice: Handling Tree Damage from a Lightning Strike

Calling in a certified arborist is the best way to deal with tree damage from a lightning strike.

Trees are like natural lightning rods — their height makes them targets. And with at least 30 million strikes occurring each year in the United States, there’s a good chance one of the trees on your northern Utah property could get hit one day.

Handling Tree Damage from a Lightning Strike

A lightning strike can cause significant tree damage, and without proper treatment for your tree, the issue could pose a danger to your home and family. If one of your trees is struck this summer, an experienced arborist will know how to handle the problem.

Identifying Lightning Damage

Experts say that a single lightning bolt contains enough energy to toast 100,000 slices of bread. So it should come as no surprise that, in many cases, you can immediately tell if a tree has been struck by lightning — the trunk is splintered, a branch is knocked off or the bark is wounded, peeled back or blown off.

However, visible damage doesn’t occur with every lightning strike. Sometimes a tree appears undamaged, but dies a few weeks or months later as a result of severe internal injury or unseen damage in the root zone.

Dealing with Lightning Damage

When a lightning strike results in only minor tree damage, an experienced arborist may be able to provide treatment to encourage recovery. Often this entails removing loosened bark, trimming hazardous broken branches and applying fertilizer to stimulate new growth. Supplemental irrigation may also be necessary, and an arborist might employ corrective pruning.

If lightning causes serious tree damage, a certified arborist will recommend removal to keep it from being a property hazard. Likewise, if a damaged tree doesn’t heal after treatment from an experienced arborist, it should be removed as soon as possible.

Preventing Lightning Damage

Preventing a lightning strike might not be possible, but a certified arborist can minimize the risk of tree damage by installing a lightning protection system. This step isn’t always necessary, but you may want to consider protecting historic, rare and specimen trees as well as any that carry personal significance or that people might move under during a storm.

Lightning protection systems must be installed properly, with the correct materials, to ensure long-term tree damage prevention. Though plans can be found online, installation isn’t a do-it-yourself project — play it safe and leave the task to an experienced arborist.

If you live in the greater Salt Lake City area and one of your trees has been struck by lightning, call on the Reliable Tree Care team. Our highly qualified, certified arborists can offer expert advice on how to manage the damage. And if you like, we can provide lightning protection for your special trees.

As a leader among northern Utah certified arborists for more than 20 years, Reliable Tree Care is known for stellar service and competitive pricing. To discuss tree damage from a lightning strike, contact us and schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced arborists today.