Hazard trees pose many threats

Published 6:15 am Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Large trees are a great asset in a home landscape, providing shade, beauty, and added property value. Well cared for yard trees are normally healthy and will provide these benefits for decades, perhaps a century. But trees with health issues can be potentially dangerous.

These are classified as hazard trees that pose a threat of dropping large limbs or falling over on people or property. Poor tree health can be caused by landowner neglect, insect or disease attacks, old age, and wind or ice storms.

It’s important that landowners inspect their trees periodically to monitor their condition and see if any are hazardous and should either have surgery or be taken down. The following is a checklist of things to look for when doing an inspection:

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• Are there large dead branches in the canopy?

• Are there detached limbs hanging in the tree?

• Does the tree have cavities or rotten wood in the trunk or major branches?

• Are mushrooms growing on or at the base of the tree?

• Are there cracks or splits in the trunk or where branches are attached?

• Have any large branches fallen from the tree?

• Have adjacent trees fallen over or died?

• Has the trunk developed a strong lean, especially towards buildings or driveways?

• Do major branches arise from one point on the trunk? (this might allow limbs to split out)

• Have roots been broken, injured, or damaged by soil disturbance, installing pavement, repairing sidewalks, or digging trenches?

• Has the site recently been changed by a construction project involving fill dirt?

• Have the leaves prematurely changed color or size?

• Have trees in adjacent wooded areas been removed?

If you have concerns about a tree, you may need to seek some expert help to determine what should be done. A certified arborist would be your best choice, or your local state forestry division may be able provide advice.

Steve Roark is a retired area forester from Tazewell, Tennessee.