Trees provide a variety of benefits; they increase property values, improve your health and create additional wildlife habitat. However, when trees fall, which all trees eventually do, they often cause serious damage to property, and, in worst-case scenarios, injuries or deaths. While you should always contact an ISA-certified arborist to make the final decision regarding a tree's fate, learn to recognize some of the most common signs associated with hazardous trees, to help keep your home and family safe.
- Dead Branches – Dead branches represent an immediate safety hazard. Even relatively small branches can cause horrific injuries, given the heights from which they often fall. Additionally, dead branches are often indicative of internal decay, which may cause the tree to fail completely.
- Mushrooms on the Trunk –Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi; when they emerge from the side of a tree, they often indicate significant internal decay. To determine the best course of action, it is usually necessary to identify the fungal species in question and examine the tree internally to learn the extent of the damage.
- Cracks – Technically, cracks indicate the tree is already failing. Trees with extensive cracks, particularly horizontal cracks, are difficult to save, and usually require removal. Vertical cracks will never truly heal, but with supportive measures, it may be possible to leave the tree standing.
- History of Limb Drop – Trees that have dropped limbs in the past are likely to drop more limbs in the future. This is especially true of trees that have dropped several limbs over the last six to twelve months.
- Hollows or Cavities – Hollows form from the actions of fungi, which digest the wood in the center of the tree. While not all hollows or cavities are serious, large cavities can drastically reduce the structural integrity of the tree.
- Canopy Die Back – Large sections of dead leaves in the canopy may indicate that a tree is battling pests or pathogens. Alternatively, the tree may be suffering from environmental problems, such as drought or sun scorch. No matter the reason, large numbers of dead leaves – not associated with seasonal leaf drop – are cause for inspection.
If one of your trees displays any of these signs, contact an arborist immediately. Make a "danger zone" by drawing a large circle around the tree with a radius equal to the tree's height. Keep people and pets out of this area, and move any valuable items from the circle. Talk to experts like Kansas City Tree Care, LLC for more information.