Preparing for Adverse Winter Weather

As the winter months are rolling in and the weather is taking a turn for the worse, it's important you prepare your mature trees for possible storms and high winds. Prior preparation is key and knowing what to look out for will help safeguard your trees and property during the bad weather.

Here are five signs you might to need to call The Arb Team sooner rather than later...

Dead or Declining Trees

Dead trees can be very dangerous during strong winds and storms and are most at risk of causing damage. You can identify a dead tree in winter by looking carefully at the different parts of the tree. You will notice that there are no buds on the branches and the majority of the branches are brittle. You can test a few small twigs of different branches to see how easily they snap and determine the health of the tree (remember to test different branches though because it is not unusual for mature trees to have some dead branches amongst the healthy ones). The bark may be peeling away from the trunk or the trunk may show signs of cracking. It is difficult to identify when a tree is dead, as opposed to dormant, so we would always recommend handing over to the professionals at The Arb Team. We can diagnose the health of the tree and make further suggestions for it's safe removal.


Be careful of the size, shape and growth pattern of the tree branches. Watch the tree during light winds, specifically the branches. If they appear to be moving heavily, they may be creating a 'sail' effect and could react much more vigorously and dangerously in strong winds. The tree may require light pruning or some more serious maintenance work. Equally, if the tree branches have grown out of control and are near to your property, your neighbour's property, over-head power cables or outbuildings, you may need to take swift action.


The roots of a mature tree are paramount to its integrity, sturdiness during high winds and general health. There are some simple ways to check the condition of a tree's root system. Start by looking at the soil around the roots. If it appears gravelly and loose, you may need to investigate further. The soil around a tree must hold a perfect balance of water, not too much to cause rot and not too little that the tree can't survive. Root rot can be a serious issue for mature trees especially if it starts to destabilise the tree. The issue appears when the soil is compacted, holding on to too much water which means the roots can't pull enough oxygen from the ground. You will notice the issue when you see fungus (mushrooms) growing specifically around the base of the tree.

You may also need to consider if there has been any large-scale construction work or excavation on your property or the surrounding area. In certain terrains this can change the structure of the soil and root system, upsetting that perfect balance of drainage and moisture and destabilising the tree.


Wood boring insects can cause terrible, seemingly invisible, damage to a mature tree that can cause its integrity to weaken and become a risk during storms. These are types of insects that lay their larvae in the inside of a tree trunk, and when the larvae hatches, they go on to eat the living, internal tissues of the trunk and branches. Different wood borers leave different signs of activity such as unusual patterns on the trunk and branches. From lots of little groups of pinholes, to S-shape feeding galleries, it can be very difficult to spot an infestation by the varying patterns. If you have noticed the tree behaving unusually through the year (e.g. not budding or blooming) or if you notice any of these patterns appearing it’s time to call in The Arb Team.


Be sure to observe the trunk of the tree for more than just infestation patterns. Look out for the shape of the trunk; if it is learning severely to one side or is there an unusual bend in a certain direction. Irregularities in the way the trunk has grown can point to many things but will be causing an in-balance in the weight of the tree branches and risks during high winds. You will also need to look out for splitting and cracking in the trunk. Again, this could be an indicator of several causes but if severe, could pose a danger during adverse weather.

The best way to prepare trees for the winter weather is to regularly maintain them by pruning and taking care of their roots throughout the year. Make some time this weekend to take a walk around your garden and look closely at your mature trees. If you see any of these signs, let the professionals take care of the situation and call The Arb Team.