Evaluating Tree Hazards
Trees provide significant benefits to our homes and cities. Still we must always be evaluating tree hazards as part of their ongoing maintenance. For all the reasons which trees are subject to failing, we must protect people from injury and property from damage so they do not become liabilities. Taking care of tree hazards makes your property safer and prolongs the life of the tree.
Trees are an important part of our world. They offer a wide range of benefits to the environment and provide tremendous beauty, even dead trees where they are not posing a threat, are a wonderful resource to wildlife. However, if they are structurally compromised, and posing a threat, and maintenance cannot readily abate the hazard, they no longer can be considered assets to the property.
It is the owner’s responsibility to abate hazards, and to provide a safe environment on his or her property. Below are some tips for identifying the common defects associated with tree hazards. However, evaluating the seriousness of these defects is best done by a certified arborist. Regular tree care will help identify hazardous trees and the risk they present. Once the hazard is recognized, steps may be taken to reduce the likelihood of the tree falling and injuring someone.
Tree Hazard Checklist
Consider these questions:
- Are there large dead branches in the tree?
- Are there detached branches hanging in the tree?
- Does the tree have cavities or rotten wood along the trunk or in major branches?
- Are mushrooms present at the base of the tree?
- Are there cracks or splits in the trunk or where branches are attached?
- Have any branches fallen from the tree?
- Have adjacent trees fallen over or died?
- Has the trunk developed a strong lean?
- Do multiple leaders or major branches arise from one point on the trunk?
- Have the roots been broken off, injured, or damaged from grading, installing pavement, repairing sidewalks, or digging trenches?
- Has the site recently been changed by construction, raising the soil level, or installing lawns?
- Have the leaves prematurely developed an unusual color or size?
- Have trees in adjacent wooded areas been removed?
- Has the tree been topped or otherwise heavily pruned?
Managing Tree Hazards
Our Arborist can help you manage the trees on your property and can provide treatments that may help make your tree safer, thereby reducing the risk associated with hazardous trees. An arborist familiar with hazard tree evaluation may suggest one or more of the following:
- Remove the target. While a home or a nearby power line cannot be moved, it is possible to move picnic tables, cars, landscape features, or other possible targets to prevent them from being hit by a falling tree.
- Prune the tree. Remove the defective branches of the tree. Because inappropriate pruning may weaken a tree, pruning work is best done by an ISA Certified Arborist.
- Cable and brace the tree. Provide physical support for weak branches and stems to increase their strength and stability.
- Provide routine care. Mature trees need routine care in the form of water, fertilizer (in some cases), mulch, and pruning as dictated by the season and their structure.
- Remove the tree. Some hazardous trees are best removed. If possible, plant a new tree in an appropriate place as a replacement.
Recognizing and reducing tree hazards not only increases the safety of your property, and that of your neighbors, but also improve the tree’s health and increase its longevity!