Many homeowners know the pleasure of a property that features trees. Of course, they provide the distinction of aesthetic beauty. Healthy trees also increase property value; they give shade, provide cleaner air, and their roots help keep the soil in place. However, a dying tree can become a nuisance or even a danger without proper intervention. Such trees (or their branches) could fall without warning, risking damage to people and structures in their vicinity.
Below, we have compiled tips for spotting the warning signs of a potentially troublesome tree. In most cases, you can check for these signs carefully on your own, but if you have any doubts, contact a certified arborist to perform an evaluation.
- Examine the trunk – The trunk of a tree can provide many of the most apparent warnings. If there are small branches (called epicormic shoots) growing from the trunk, it indicates stress to the tree. Check for large pieces of missing bark. This is a clear sign of a dying, rotting, or infested tree. Vertical seams, cracks, cavities, or other damage to the trunk may warrant tree removal, depending on size. If a crack or wound to the tree takes up less than 25% of the circumference of the trunk, it could heal on its own over time, and thus not require removal. If the tree has cavities or appears hollow, this, too, may warrant removal, but again it depends on size. Many trees with hollow trunks can live for years; however, if more than one-third of the trunk appears to be hollow, this could compromise the strength of the tree.
- Check to see if the tree is leaning – Find a vantage point that provides an unobstructed view. Does the tree stand vertically, or does it appear to lean? If the tree has been on your property for a long time, take note whether you have ever noticed it leaning before, or if the leaning is more recent. If the leaning is more recent, this could indicate weakening roots or a breakage. This factor can also be checked by looking at the base of the tree. If there is any gap between the tree’s roots and the ground, it may indicate a new lean. Although some trees may lean naturally, a leaning tree is generally a warning sign that the tree could fall, and a professional should be called.
- Examine the ground around the base of the tree – Besides indicating any leaning, the base of the tree and its roots can also reveal other important factors related to the health of the tree. The growth of fungi is often (although not always) associated with internal rot. The appearance of sawdust at the base of the tree is a sign of insect infestation. Check to see if the roots of the tree show visible damage or decay. If present, any of these factors could undermine the strength of the tree, meaning that it is losing structural support and could be at risk of falling.
- Is the tree desirable? – Beyond the above-stated factors that might make an old tree dangerous, you should also consider the tree’s upkeep and impact on your property. Certain species of trees are composed of weaker wood, which make them more likely to break. Shallow root systems can damage the lawn surrounding the tree, or grow under nearby pavement and damage it. Certain trees are also known to be invasive, as their reseeding can alter a landscape. Finally, some tree species frequently drop debris which, while not dangerous, can require extra effort to keep the property clean and clear.
Tree removal can be dangerous and is best left to professionals. If you believe a tree on your property may be at risk of falling or needs to be removed, call Warren Cleaning and Restoration. Our two family-owned and operated offices are located in Big Stone Gap, VA, and Hendersonville, NC, and we serve an approximate 2-hour radius from each location.
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