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Protecting your home from tree damage before severe weather strikes

Protecting your home from tree damage before severe weather strikes
Protecting your home from tree damage before severe weather strikes 02:37

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- One of the biggest threats during severe weather is the trees in your yard. 

Summer isn't here just yet, but Southwestern Pennsylvania has seen its fair share of intense weather, including 10 tornadoes this month, and more severe weather could be on the way this week.

Can you do anything to make sure your trees are stormproof? KDKA-TV went to the professionals who were out on a job Tuesday to find out.

Monster Tree Service of North Pittsburgh is staying busy keeping trees healthy, removing trees before severe weather hits, and answering calls after storms send trees crashing down onto yards, homes, or vehicles.

Owner of Monster Tree Service of North Pittsburgh, Cindy Starr Stewart, said every tree poses a risk, especially the ones close to your home.

"We don't have a crystal ball, so people often want us to come and want us to know if this tree is safe. We don't know. There's trees that look like they're going to fall, and they stand forever, and there's trees that look perfectly fine, then a storm comes through, and they fall," she said.

Stewart said to help maintain a tree and make it healthier, don't do volcano mulching that buries the trunk in mulch, and get the tree pruned if it has a lot of leaves and branches because they act like a sail in the wind.

"One of the things people have to understand is what kind of risk are they willing to take, and if branches are hanging over their home, especially if they haven't had them pruned recently, one of the things you can do is get some of that deadwood pruned out of your trees," Stewart said.

How you can help stormproof trees on your property before severe weather strikes 01:50

She said that dead trees can be easy to spot, including if there are no leaves on them right now.

"If you look up in a tree and see areas that aren't leafing like they used to, and they seem thinner than other areas. The other things you're looking for are splits or cracks in the tree," Stewart said.

Keep in mind that it's always cheaper and safer to take down a tree while it's alive.

"Because once it's dead, it's a lot more expensive to take care of and a lot more dangerous," Stewart said.

So, when should you call a certified arborist to take a look?

"If people are looking out at their trees and they see, 'I have trees that are close to my house, I have trees that keep dropping dead wood in my yard, I have trees that if they did fall it would take out my home,'" Stewart said.

Tree removals can cost thousands of dollars, but Monster Tree Service and most other tree service companies do consultations at no cost. They help you make a good decision on whether to maintain or remove a tree.

"We're here to help; we are like on the front line, and we know that, and so we are always in the ready, always paying attention to the weather, and ready to help people because it is scary. It's a big deal," Stewart said.

"Keeping your trees safe and healthy is really important, and it's an investment. It's an investment in your property, it's an investment in your homes, [and] it's an investment in your peace of mind for your family," she added. 

Check your home insurance to find out what your coverage is to make sure you'd be covered if a tree fell on your home, and remember, if a neighbor's tree falls on your property, the damages become your responsibility.

Very few home insurance policies help with preventing tree damage. Steward said a home equity line of credit usually provides the best rate for tree removal projects.

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