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How to Prevent Tree Damage

Promoting healthy trees begins before you put them in the ground. Consult your hardiness zone prior to purchasing any saplings. The hardiness zone outlines which vegetation can grow in your climate's temperature extremes. Trees planted in the wrong hardiness zone will be predisposed to poor growth. When planning where to plant trees, allow plenty of space for growth, and support trees with stakes for the first five to seven years to build wind firmness.

As your trees mature, you may need to prune them. If so, try to cut branches before they've grown larger than one inch (2.5 centimeters) in diameter. Also, don't hack long branches down to stubs -- thin, fragile branches will sprout from that point [source: Arbor Day Foundation]. Once you begin pruning the tree's crown, or leafy top, be sure not to disrupt the tree's center of gravity. If you remove too much from one side or the other, the crown will be lopsided, destabilizing the tree.

­Watch out for oversized and forked branches. Tree branches shouldn't be larger than half the total diameter of the tree. Otherwise, the tree can't support the added weight. Forked branches are also more susceptible to snapping in bad weather. Since it has to support more than one branch, the wood where the fork meets is weaker. The healthiest branches on the tree will grow at 45-degree angles to the trunk, which allows enough space between the branch and the trunk for new wood growth [source: Arbor Day Foundation].

As you would with flowers in a garden, water and fertilize your trees regularly. That schedule will vary depending on the type of tree and its hardiness zone. Also keep an eye out for signs of pests, such as pine beetles, that infect trees. If you have a damaged tree on your property and aren't sure what to do, consult an arborist.

Giving trees a little attention can help them endure the eye of the storm.

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