Tree storm damage

Asked January 20, 2017, 11:17 PM EST

I have a crape myrtle and a redbud tree where a major branch connected to the base was broken from snow weight. I am not worried about symmetry of the remaining tree, but when I cut the branch from its broken spot do I need to treat the cut with anything or is it fine to just make a clean cut? Some neighbors meant to be helpful but the branch base is roughly cut rather than cleanly cut. Does that matter to tree health? Thank younfor the assistance.

Clackamas County Oregon trees and shrubs pruning trees

1 Response

No. Pruning paint or other “sealers” are not needed.

And yes, the cut should be clean rather than ragged because such cuts allow the tree to chemically create a barrier to stop infections. The appropriate cut is made following the guidelines for “natural target pruning” as illustrated at

Here are some basic management guidelines, and references, for storm-damaged shrubs and trees:

- Be safe. Hire a Certified Arborist for large jobs. To locate such persons, search with your zip code at You may need to be patient because local companies are likely overloaded with jobs due to the recent snow and ice storms; even so, get on their list now.

- Before you remove any branches, determine if they are broken or are weighed down by snow and/or ice.

- Remove broken branches as soon as the weather permits so that the tree will be able to manage the wound better than if it is torn.

- If branches sag due to snow, remove the snow by sweeping upward; often they will gradually return to a suitable position. You’ll need to be patient.

- If 50 percent or more top growth has been damaged or lost, the shrub or tree may not recover.

- If the trunk has split, the tree may not recover.

More resources for you: “First aid for trees after winter storms” ( and “Tree Recovery for Homeowners” (