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Protecting Your Trees From Lightning Strikes

Large mature trees add value to your property, but may be prone to damage from a lightning strike if they are taller than nearby trees, on a high point, or stand alone without other nearby trees. Protecting them from lightning strikes with a lightning protection system is a wise investment.

This tree struck by lightning will likely not recover.

Lightning Damage Can Mean the Loss of a Significant Tree

Large and valuable trees at risk of lightning strikes can be protected from lightning damage by designing and installing a lightning protection system. The system consists of copper wires and ground rods that act to carry the electrical charge from lightning to the ground before it reaches a damaging level to your tree.  In essence, trees are standing vessels of water that act as grounding rods for lightning. Since copper is a much better conductor of electricity than water or tree tissues, lightning travels through the copper wires and spares the tree from damage.

Lightning protection systems must be designed for the specific branching habit of each individual tree. The proper hardware includes “points” at the top of each major limb with wires that run down the primary trunks. The wires often join together and then run down the trunk and outward to ground rods driven several feet into the ground.

The copper system is costly, but the loss of a large or significant tree can exact an emotional as well as financial toll on the tree’s owner. Consider that a large old tree cannot be replaced in our lifetime — for all the money in the world!

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