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Shape up your trees


Published: 04/09/2012

by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Trees provide homeowners with a wide range of tangible benefits. In addition to being beautiful, they can supply shade on a sunny day, cool your home in the summer, block winds in the winter, create a home for birds and small animals, and increase your property value.  

Unfortunately, trees can also be vulnerable to damage from strong storms. But just because a tree is damaged doesn’t mean
it has to be given up for lost. To help you protect your trees and your yard, here are some tips on how to restore the shape and health of storm-damaged trees.


•   If the damage is beyond where you can reach using proper tools and safety equipment, hire a certified tree care rofessional.


•   For areas you can safely reach, clean up broken branches by cutting a straight, clean edge close to the mother branch or trunk. It is better to cut the branch back to the collar than to leave a branch stub. However, avoid cutting too close to the trunk, and never cut into the bark ridges or collar of a branch, as this could open your tree up to infection or decay. Cutting too flush to the trunk can also make the wound bigger than it needs to be. Trees will seal, form a callus and close wounds themselves. Callusing around the wound or cut will be doughnut-shaped if a proper cut was made, and eventually it will close over. Painting and dressing wounds is of little or no value in hastening wound closure.


•  Branches
more than 2.5 cm (1 in.) in diameter should be cut with a saw. For large
branches, use a three-cut system to avoid splitting and bark tearing:

            1. Cut on the bottom side of the branch 30 cm to 60 cm (1-2 ft.) from the branch attachment, one-quarter of the way through.

            2. On the top side of the branch 2.5 cm (1 in.) out from the first cut (away from the branch attachment), saw until the limb falls off.

            3. Saw off the remaining part of the limb just beyond the outer portion of the branch collar. This can be done in two phases, initially from the bottom halfway through and then from the top.


•    For smaller branches, use curved shears, and place the blade so that it cuts upwards or diagonally, not down.


•   To prevent insects or disease-causing organisms from infecting your tree, remove all torn or damaged bark with a sharp wood chisel, a gouge or a pruning knife. Cut the loose bark at right angles to the wound, until you reach firm bark.


•    Do not attempt to remove any branches that are near, or which touch, electrical wires. Instead, report the problem to your electrical utility, and wait for its staff to remove the branches.


•   To keep a tree strong and healthy all year round, practice a regular maintenance program that includes watering and fertilization. 


These tips were compiled by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. For a free copy of the About Your House fact
sheet, Helping Your Trees Survive Storm Damage, visit or call CMHC
at 1-800-668-2642.

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