February 16


Are Your Trees at Risk?

By clientsite

February 16, 2016

February has definitely been a roller coaster ride when it comes to the weather! The temperatures have been warmer than usual with an occasional cold snap and the wind has been fierce at times. As I write this, the wind is gusting at 45 mph, resulting in a wind chill that I’m trying to ignore by thinking about summer: lounging by the pool, picnics with the family and vacationing at the beach. As I digress, I’m quickly brought back to reality by the sound of wind rattling my windows. The cold definitely bothers me, but the wind is what I’m most concerned about.

As a homeowner, I worry about the usual home stuff, like my aging roof and drafty, 1973 windows. But, when the wind picks up or the ice and snow come down, I start to worry about the trees on my property and the risk they pose to my house.

So what is risk? Risk is defined as “the possibility of loss or injury.” Is it possible that one of my trees or part of a tree could fail? Absolutely! In a tornado or hurricane your trees will fail but will they fail under normal weather conditions?

Which trees are considered “high risk”? High-risk trees can have a single defect or many depending on the type of plant. A common defect, that is easy to identify and manage, is the dead or dying wood found in the canopy of most mature trees. Trees naturally shed this tissue over time, so the dropping of deadwood is unpredictable. It will definitely happen during a storm but could also happen in the middle of the night or during a backyard party. One never knows…but fortunately, preventative measures can be taken by a Certified Arborist to remove the deadwood.

Unfortunately, most defects, in mature trees, are less visible than deadwood. Breakage from past storms, fissures and cracking of large branches, and separation of main leads can be extremely hard to identify. Spotting these defects can be even more difficult during the growing season when the crown of the tree is full of leaves.

A small crack that is difficult to see from the ground (left), can lead to future branch failure (right).

Some trees with the highest amount of risk have very little to no visible external damage. Decay pathogens typically introduce themselves from the roots or through the main stem, compromising the structural integrity of the tree from the inside out. Sometimes, the damage isn’t noticed until it is too late – after a tree fails at the base from extensive amounts of decay. Damage caused by construction equipment can also elevate the risk of trees near your home. Roots of the tree along a road can be cut during pipe installation or during curbing replacement. This can compromise the support on one side of the tree leading to a high-risk situation.

It was only after the tree failed that the extent of the internal damage was realized. The darkened internal wood indicates the presence of wood decay pathogens.

It’s important to remember that no tree on your property is 100% safe and all trees carry a certain amount of risk. So, how can tree risk be assessed? The only persons qualified to assess the risk of trees are Certified Arborists. They understand tree biology, can calculate solid stem structure and identify potential symptoms of tree pathogens. At ArborTech, our Arborists are trained and certified to industry standards to assess the risk that your landscape’s trees may pose to your property.

So, even though February’s weather has been unpredictable, it is a great time of year to have trees evaluated for risk, since deciduous trees are not in leaf. The Arborist has a clear view of the tree’s canopy without obstruction. If there is concern about a tree on your property, give ArborTech a call and our Certified Arborists would be more than happy to come out and give your worrisome tree an evaluation.


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