You’ve no doubt heard that lightning usually strikes the tallest object in the area. But what if the tallest object in your yard is a 200 year old oak that your great great, great, great, grandfather used to climb as a boy? How do you protect this still beautiful, vigorous tree from being struck and badly damaged by lightning?
Keep Trees Watered and Mulched
Though this won’t stop lightning from striking the tree, keeping the tree well-watered and mulched gives the tree a better chance of surviving a lightning strike. Mulch the tree a few inches from the crown to the drip line. Mulch shouldn’t be more than four inches deep and can be made of all sorts of materials. However, organic materials such as rotted leaves, wood chips, and compost decompose over time and give the tree needed nutrition. Keeping the tree tidy by pruning and trimming dead or diseased branches supports its health and helps it to heal after lightning strikes it.
Though this is pricey, electrical grade copper cables can direct the lightning away from the tree and into copper rods or plates that are installed in the ground just past the drip line. Some companies, like Pete & Ron’s Tree Service Inc., know that this allows the electric charge to dissipate harmlessly into the ground. The cables are attached to the tree’s top branches and run down the trunk. Special fasteners secure the cable without allowing it to touch the bark. Make sure that a qualified tree surgeon with ANSI certification sets up this system. Once in place, it can last for as long as a century with periodic maintenance.
Plant the Right Tree
You may be surprised to learn that not all trees are equally susceptible to lightning strikes. If you are worried about lightning destroying your tree, plant those that aren’t highly susceptible to lightning strikes. These include species such as beech and maple.
Choose the Right Tree
If you live on a property that has lots of trees, you’ll need to choose the ones who will have lightning protection. These trees should be the ones that are special to you and your family, like your 200 year old oak and tall trees that are 10 feet from your house or other building.
A million trees are hit by lightning every year. Some of them will survive, others will be killed instantly and still others will wither away due to the damage they’ve sustained. Because of that, it is worth keeping all trees healthy and installing lightning protection on those that have meaning to you.