Lightning Protection for Trees

July 6, 2010

Trees provide us with so many memories and can be very difficult and expensive, if not impossible, to replace. Too often severe weather can damage these precious assets. For more information on lightning protection or seasonal tree care tips, visit

R.J. Laverne, Davey Tree Service expert and ISA Board Certified Master Arborist, is going to inform you about lightning protection.

Of course you cannot control the weather, but you can take steps to protect your special trees against severe storms. One way is through the installation of a lightning-protection system.

The idea is to direct the electricity into highly conductive cables and down into the ground so that the tree won’t be damaged.  Since trees are living organisms that can’t simply be rebuilt, this is a particularly important safeguard against severe storms.

When a system is installed by a professional arborist, the soil near the tree is tested with a ground resistance meter to determine soil conductivity. When lightning strikes the conductor cable affixed to the tree, it is directed to an appropriate number of ground rods, avoiding potential damage to the root zone. The conductor cable is installed using special hardware with a spring that will push the cable away from the trunk as the tree grows, preventing the hardware from being embedded into the tree. Fuses attached to the conductor cable are tested and monitored to ensure the system is functioning and whether the system has been struck.  

The installation of a lightning protection system is complex, so contact your local professionally trained arborist for assistance.

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