Arizona may not have tornadoes or earthquakes to worry about very often but monsoon winds have been known to tear down a tree or two and cause some major damage.

The city of Phoenix has licensed and trained arborists who have a few tips about keeping your tree throughout summer storms.

“Really it’s the right tree in the right place. Make sure you’re not planting trees where they don’t belong,” said Ken Vonderscher, deputy parks and recreation director in the northeast section of town.

Vonderscher suggests an ash or oak tree for grassy landscapes. Those tend to have harder wood and can resist more damage.

Of course desert trees in desert landscapes are built to withstand the monsoon. Desert trees should be kept as natural as possible.

“A lot of desert trees have a natural shape that allows the wind to go around them,” Vonderscher said. “If you trim them up into patio umbrella shapes they tend to have more wind throw.

“The difference is the patio umbrella you can put away but once you’ve trimmed a tree like that it tends to suffer more damage in storms. Pruning is critical but you don’t want to raise it so high it becomes an umbrella waiting for the wind to come by.”

Vonderscher suggests watering deeply and often, moving your drip-o-meter away from the tree trunk annually.

“Your trees will actually root out two to three times the size of the crown of the tree,” Vonderscher said. “Irrigation is a limiting factor so a lot of times they won’t root out as far.

“That means they’ll have a smaller root system for a larger sized tree. That tends to be thrown around in the wind and can cause the tree to fail.”

Vonderscher said healthy trees are usually OK during the monsoon but it’s important to be away when your tree is failing.

A good way to know is to compare it to other trees in the neighborhood. If your tree does appear to be wilting, Vonderscher suggests calling an arborist to come give an evaluation.

The right place for a tree is far enough away from a home to accommodate for its genetic potential, with younger trees typically 20 feet away from a home, Vonderscher added.

To find an arborist to inspect your trees, visit the International Society of Arboriculture at

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