Lightning can be devastating to trees. And it can be heartbreaking for property owners to lose a favorite tree to a lightning strike. If your tree is struck by lightning, it's important to act quickly to try to save it.
First, it's helpful to understand what happens when the tree is struck. The sap inside the tree is instantly gassified, which causes an explosion that damages the wood and bark. Around 50% of trees struck by lightning die immediately. Others will become weakened and more susceptible to disease and breakage, which means they are much more likely to die over time.
Keep in mind that your tree may show no outward signs of damage after being struck by lightning. Usually you'll see bark damage, but this isn't always the case. Even if the tree looks perfectly fine, if it was struck by lightning, it is in severe distress.
The first thing you can do to try to save your tree is give it plenty of water. This allows the tree to pull much-needed nutrients from the soil. You can also give it additional nutrients by spreading fertilizer around the base of the tree. Finally, you can prune off any damaged branches or wood. But be careful not to prune too much, which can further stress the tree. It's best to wait a full year before doing more extensive pruning to give your tree time to recover.
If your tree leafs out in spring, this is a very good sign that it will fully recover. If it doesn't, this unfortunately means that your tree has probably died and will need to be removed.
If you have any doubts about the condition of your tree or how much damage to prune, we can take a look and help you determine the best path forward.
One final thing to consider is adding lightning protection for your most cherished trees. These systems involve discreet copper cabling with ground anchors that absorb the impact of a lightning strike. Many people find this investment worthwhile. You can learn more about lightning protection here.
Have more questions? We're glad to help! You can contact us for a free estimate any time.