(734) 662-1684 Serving Washtenaw County & The Ann Arbor Area Since 1981

Lightning Protection

Lightning strikes thousands of trees every year. While some of these trees can survive with extensive care, the majority eventually decline. Trees on hills, lone trees, trees close to water, and tall trees are the most susceptible targets for lightning. Certain species are more prone to strikes:

  • Maples
  • Catalpas
  • Ashes
  • Tulip Poplars
  • Cottonwoods
  • Poplars
  • Pines
  • Spruces
  • Oaks
  • Black Locusts
  • Hemlocks
  • Elms

These species have either a moderate or high susceptibility to strikes. Lightning can also "side-flash" from trees to buildings in close proximity resulting in fires. The National Fire Protection Agency recommends installing lightning protection in trees that are within 10 feet of a structure.

Lightning protection does not "attract" lightning. The system is installed to merely be receptive to strikes and direct them safely into the ground without harming the tree. A copper conducting wire is attached at the top of the tree and run down the trunk into the ground and out to a distance at least 10 feet away from the root flare. The hardware can last up to 100 years and occasionally the system needs to be extended if the tree grows significantly taller.

If you have a tree that meets any of the above descriptions, or if you simply have a favorite, large tree that you do not want to lose to lightning, an Urban Foresters representative can give you an estimate for this service. The cost to install a lightning protection system will always be far less than the financial and emotional cost of removing a large, memorable tree.