Hail Damage to Trees & Shrubs: What to Do

Severe storms accompanied by hail are common in Colorado. After checking our vehicles for dings and making sure our homes aren’t damaged, we usually look at the leaves and tree debris covering the lawn and ask ourselves, “What’s happened to my trees; should I be concerned?” The short answer is, probably not.

Can hail damage kill my trees and shrubs?
No.

What will hail damage do to my trees and shrubs?
Hail damage alone typically does not affect the long-term health of trees or shrubs. It can compromise the plant’s ability to produce energy, consequently stressing the plant. Hail damage strips leaves that make sugar (energy) for the tree. Producing new leaves uses stored energy, which is added stress on the tree, leaving them more vulnerable to pests and poor environmental conditions. Hail damages twigs and branches causing hundreds of small wounds on the tree. Trees such as honeylocust and poplars may also develop small cankers where the branches were damaged. These wounds disrupt water flow and opens wounds for disease. Trees and shrubs will repair themselves, but this takes energy.

Will my trees and shrubs produce new leaves?
When plants are severely defoliated, a healthy tree will produce new leaves in 2-3 weeks. The tree will likely look “sparse” for the remainder of the year. Trees that are in poor condition may produce fewer leaves and take longer to do so. Fertilization can help your tree or shrub recover more quickly.

Should I continue insect control treatments on damaged trees and shrubs?
It is very important to continue to protect your trees and shrubs from insects and other pests.  The remaining leaves and any new leaves that the tree is producing need to be protected because they are vital to produce energy for the tree and helping it recover.

What can be done to minimize the long-term effects of hail damage on my plants?
The most important way to mitigate hail damage is to reduce the stress and help the tree recover by proper watering and fertilization to promote root growth.

If you have any questions regarding the health of your tree, contact a local Denver tree service such as Swingle for help!