A large evergreen was partially uprooted in a storm. Can I save it?
Tree roots are not as deep as most people imagine. Most tree roots are located in the top 12 to 18 inches of soil. While tree roots are quite shallow, they often extend out into an area that is 2 to 3 times larger than the crown area. One of the chief functions of a tree’s roots is to “anchor” the tree and keep it upright.
While a tree’s roots are normally able to keep it upright, strong winds in storms can partially or completely blow over trees (especially when soils are wet).
It may be possible to save small, partially uprooted evergreens (those with 50 percent or more of their root systems intact and 10 feet or less in height) by carefully pulling them back upright and staking them. Evergreens taller than 10 feet probably can’t be saved. Even if a large evergreen could be pulled upright, it will likely die within a short time because of the extensive root damage or be blown over again in a future storm.
If you decide to attempt to reset a partially uprooted tree, it could be several years before you know if the tree will survive. It will likely take a number of years for a tree to replace lost or damaged roots. If a tree can’t produce enough food (energy) to rebuild its root system, the tree will become stressed and susceptible to disease and insect pests that might cause its death.