Trees are a strong, yet fragile part of the yard. With help, they thrive and safely provide both beauty and shade. Without help, they may become sick and die or unexpectedly fall, thus causing damage or injury. Those who do not understand trees may unintentionally harm or even kill them.
Common tree problems
Dead trees. Because dead trees do not sprout leaves, they are easily identified in the spring. A dead tree should be removed promptly, especially if it is in an area where it could create damage or injure someone if it fell. In fact, dead tree removal is the most common tree service job.
Fungus or mushrooms. Fungus or mushrooms growing on the tree, or around the base of the tree, are a sign of decaying or rotting wood and/or roots. When a tree’s roots decay or rot, the tree is dying. As the roots weaken, the tree loses support and is more likely to fall or to break. If the problem is identified early enough, a professional tree service may be able to save the tree.
Dead branches. Dead branches present a risk of falling, are unsightly, permit decay to enter the tree, and serve no useful purpose to the tree.
Raised earth around the tree base. Raised or broken earth around the tree base may be a sign that the tree is starting to uproot and may fall in a strong storm.
Leaning trees. Sometimes trees will naturally start to lean. The more a tree leans, the more likely it is to fall in a storm.
Missing bark. Because bark is the living portion of the tree, large areas of missing bark indicate a sick tree. Additionally, exposed wood attracts insect infestation.
Since many tree problems are easily identified, experts advise you to regularly examine your trees, looking for potential problems such as the ones mentioned above. For a consulting fee, trained arborists can help spot potential problems and give advice.
Homeowners should know. . .
Tree topping can kill. Although tree topping, or cutting off the top of the tree, is a common practice, tree experts do not recommend it. Instead, tree experts recommend crown reduction. Crown reduction involves removing specific branches at or near the treetop. Where tree topping can easily kill the tree, crown reduction is far less damaging. Experts recommend never removing more than a quarter of a tree’s branches at one time.
Climbing spikes damage. Climbing spikes, devices strapped on to a tree climber’s feet, allow the climber to support his or her weight while climbing. The climber digs the spikes into the tree bark/trunk. Because spikes damage the tree bark, climbing spikes should never be used on any tree you are trying to save. Climbing spikes may be used on a tree being removed.
Difficulty drives removal cost. Experts often remove even difficult trees with little damage to other trees, plants, landscaping, and lawns. Doing so can be a challenging and expensive task. Companies offering to simply cut down a tree and allow it to fall freely are not providing protection for other yard components. When comparing quotes, make sure to compare apples to apples.
Landscaping can kill a tree. According to the experts, trees breathe through their roots. Adding six inches of soil on top of a tree’s root system can suffocate it.
Withhold payment until work is finished. Some homeowners who pay for tree services before the work and cleanup are complete find that cleanup promises are quickly forgotten. Withholding payment until cleanup is complete gives the tree service a financial incentive to finish the job.
Liability is significant. According to industry sources, if you feel that a neighbor’s tree is in danger of damaging your house or property, you should consider requesting, via certified letter, that the tree be removed. Such a letter may help your case if the tree later falls and damages your property.
Permits may be required. Many city and county governments regulate tree removal and require inspections and/or permits. Additionally, in some subdivisions, the homeowners’ association must also approve tree removals. Although getting the proper permits and approvals is the homeowner’s responsibility, many high-quality tree services will remind you to get them and, in some cases, assist in procuring them.
Due to the heights involved, tree work is very dangerous. Professional tree workers can be seriously injured or even killed on the job. A falling tree or tree branch can damage a home, a vehicle, or other property. Tree services, like any company working at the home, should carry liability insurance. You should verify this insurance directly with the insurance company.