Many Palm Harbor tree service companies may tell you that storm preparation, as it pertains to tree care, requires you to remove large amounts of wood and foliage from a tree, in order to make the tree ready for high winds.
This may have the affect of allowing winds to pass through the tree, instead of smashing into it like a wall, however, there are other side effects to this type of so-called "storm preparation trimming."
A hurricane or other type of high wind event can strip the leaves from a tree, leaving the tree in a state of stress. Removing too much foliage, and wood from a tree prior to a high wind event, makes your tree more vulnerable to this stripping effect.
If you remove a third of your tree's foliage, and a hurricane removes another third, you then only have a third of the foliage left. It is recommended to never remove more than 25% of most tree's foliage in any given annual growing season, depending on the species, age, health and location.
Removing too many leaves from your tree, will also signal the tree to sprout more leaves to make up for the deficiency, causing the tree to use more of it's reserved carbohydrates, further stressing your tree, and making it more susceptible to disease or failure.
Your Palm Harbor trees need as much of their foliage intact as possible, because this is the life and energy of the tree. The leaves on your tree manufacture carbohydrates, which are then supplied to every organ to feed and sustain your tree's health and growth.
The strongest your tree will ever be, is when it has at least two thirds of its canopy, and plenty of structurally sound branches, and a solid root system that will withstand strong storm winds, if Palm Harbor is hit with a hurricane or other high wind storm.
When going into a storm season, it is much better to consider cleaning your trees, that is to remove select dead, diseased and broken branches, that stress the tree, to make sure your tree has a better chance of recouperating from any high wind damage that may occur.
Reduction pruning and raising can also be used to reduce the canopy size (by no more than 25%), reducing the target size, allowing wind to pass over, around, and beneath the canopy of the tree more freely.
Another pruning method know as drop crotching can also be employed, to open pockets in the canopy of your tree, to allow wind to pass through the tree more freely, without creating undue stress on the tree.
Palm Harbor trees have a better chance of survival when they are more compact, have a low center of gravity, a well tapered trunk, and a well developed root system. And native trees do better than exotic species. Exotics do better in high winds if planted in groups.
Do not have your tree removed if it loses it's leaves in a storm, because we have learned that most trees will grow new leaves very quickly in reponse. It may need to be monitored by a professional Palm Harbor arborist, but most can be saved.