Although trees are remarkably resilient organisms, they all die eventually, causing most to fall to the ground. Because of the immense weights some trees reach, this can represent a very significant danger to your home and family. Even if the entire tree does not fall, shed branches can cause serious injuries and property damage.
Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy way to determine when a tree will fall. However, skilled arborists can determine if a tree is at high risk of doing so. While you should always contact an arborist if you are concerned about a tree on your property, but you can learn to look for a variety of the signs arborists consider when assessing a tree.
Some of the most telling signs and symptoms trees can exhibit include the following:
Trees that have “twin” trunks lack the structural integrity of those with bearing a single trunk. The attachment point between the two trunks is rarely strong, and such trees frequently split at the junction. However, several kinds of supports can be used to help strengthen these junctions, so removal is not always necessary for such trees.
Mushrooms on or near the Tree
Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungal networks, so they only occur where there is significant fungal penetration in an area. And while not all fungi are pathogenic, it is important to have any mushrooms (whether they occur on the tree’s trunk or on the ground under the canopy) evaluated to determine the relative likelihood of limb drop or failure.
Large cracks – especially those oriented horizontally along tree trunks – can make a tree very susceptible to failure. Small vertical cracks may not be serious, but only a trained arborist can determine which cracks require action and which can be ignored.
Large Tree Hollows
While small hollows are rarely a problem for otherwise-healthy trees, large hollows can compromise the structural integrity of the tree. Additionally, because most hollows are associated with some degree of decay, the damage may be much more extensive than it appears on the surface.
Shifting Soil near the Base of a Tree
Shifting or mounding soil is one of the most troubling signs a tree can display, and it indicates that failure is imminent. Always act promptly when mounding soil is noticed, by keeping everyone away from the tree and contacting an arborist immediately.
Nearby Tree Failures
Trees often help shield other trees from strong winds, so when an individual on the periphery of a group of trees falls over, the trees behind it can be at increased risk of failure. In fact, these formerly shielded trees are often at greater risk of failure, as they did not produce reaction wood to help strengthen them against the prevailing winds.
General Health of the Tree
Trees that are struggling with parasites, pathogens or environmental factors are at high risk of failure. Arborists will judge the general health of a tree by inspecting the root system, and looking for symptoms like crown dieback (usually characterized by dead and dying branches in the canopy).
History of Limb Drop
Trees that have previously dropped large limbs are more likely to drop additional limbs in the future. This is especially true of trees that seem to shed limbs for no apparent reason – a phenomenon called sudden limb drop.
If you are concerned about one or more of the trees in your yard, contact your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants immediately. We will send out one of our trained, skilled and experienced arborists, who will assess the risk the tree presents and recommend a prudent course of action.