Management Tips For Storm-Damaged Trees
Broward County > Parks and Recreation > Extension Education > Commercial Horticulture > Management Tips For Storm-Damaged Trees

Downed Trees: Should They Be Reset or Removed?

treesHurricane Wilma has ravaged the Broward County Landscape. Much of our beloved tree canopy has either been lost or severely damaged. Property owners and managers are faced with a multitude of decisions regarding what to do with landscaping that remains. Below are some commonly asked questions and answers that maybe helpful in the decision making process.



This question is best answered by a certified arborist (go to and click on “find an arborist”) who can visit the property and do an on-site evaluation of each fallen tree. Even if the tree appears to be alive, there may be serious damage to the canopy and/or to the rootball making its recovery questionable.


Generally speaking, it is advisable to remove trees if they possess one or more of the following conditions:

  • The tree has snapped off at the base;
  • 50% or more of the canopy has been destroyed and there are few if any intact scaffold branches remaining; such branches are generally necessary for long-term canopy remediation;
  • The rootball has dried out, the foliage has turned brown and/or the stems have withered (scratch the young stems with your fingernail, if the tissue underneath is green then it remains alive;
  • Multiple large anchor roots have snapped off, split open or have been pulled out of the ground;
  • The trunk has cracked, split apart or if codominant leaders (multiple trunks) have broken off exposing a large amount of inner trunk tissue;
  • The tree is leaning and cannot be straightened and restaked;

Is a Permit Needed to Remove Downed Trees and Do They Need To Be Replaced?

Technically, a tree that has fallen is no longer considered protected canopy, and a removal permit may not be required. Further, replacement of such trees may or may not be needed depending upon the amount of healthy tree canopy remaining on the property. Check with your city for applicable landscape code requirements. Properties that become deficient in their required tree count due to storm damage, disease or unpermitted removals, will likely be required to bring their landscape up to code.