Trees are invaluable. Besides functioning as giant oxygen factories, they provide shade and comfort – and sometimes sustenance – to generations of animals and people. So removing a tree from your landscape can be a difficult decision. But if a tree poses a risk to people or property, you’ll want to call a professional.
How do you know when it’s time to make that call? Ask yourself these questions to decide if it’s time to go out on a limb and contact an arborist.
1. Is the tree hindering access to your property or another’s property?
When a tree’s limbs or root system begin to threaten a structure; or to impede access to passageways such as driveways or alleyways; or when it damages easements or rights-of-way, it might be time to remove it. Even the most beautiful trees can dismantle concrete sidewalks and asphalt roads, interfere with power lines and telecommunication wires. When pruning won’t help, consult an arborist.
2. Is the tree reacting to weather in ways that cause concern?
Is your tree losing limbs when the wind blows? Is it leaning precariously in stormy weather? These can be signs of a tree that is unhealthy. Your family’s safety in a storm is crucial. So if there is a tree that causes you to worry about your roof, vehicles, or even family members when severe weather hits, it’s time to bring in a professional.
3. Is the tree visibly damaged?
Take a good look at the tree. Are there gashes or cavities in the trunk, chipped or peeling bark, or cracks in the trunk or large limbs? Is there decay-producing fungi on the trunk or at its base? All of these could be symptoms of a tree that should be removed by a professional arborist due to poor and deteriorating structural health.
4. Is the tree alive or is it dead or dying?
Trees that are dead or dying will exhibit physical signs that you can discover with a little investigating. Scratch a small limb and peek under the bark – is the wood green and moist, or brown and dry? Brown and dry can mean it is dead or dying. Are there dead or hanging branches in the upper crown or canopy of the tree? At the ends of lower branches, are there fine twigs without living buds? Has the tree stopped growing leaves, or does it have large areas that have? These can indicate a dead tree, which poses an immediate and imminent risk to people and property.
Taking the time to make these assessments can help you decide whether you’re seeing signs of a tree that has completed its life cycle. Check with your homeowner’s insurance for coverage, and follow your area’s code enforcement guidelines regarding property lines, permits, and environmental protections. And, always consult with a professional arborist to determine the best options for removal.