Managing Tree Hazards – How to Tell If a Tree Is a Hazard to Your Property

If you own a home in Tallahassee, Florida, with trees in the yard, you are already familiar with the many benefits trees offer, especially to homes on this side of Florida. The larger and older a tree is, the more the benefits enjoyed, from offering natural temperature control around the house to boosting the aesthetics of your home. However, larger and older trees are more prone to branch shedding or causing root conflict in the area they inhabit. Even while enjoying the many benefits these trees offer, it is essential for the owner also to recognize the risks they pose.

Concerns that trees around your home may fall or damage your property or hurt a person are serious concerns. Tree hazards can also be a huge liability to the owner, costing thousands of dollars in repair and paying off damages if they fall and damage your property, your neighbor’s property or hurt someone.

If you are a tree owner, proper tree management is the best way to ensure your trees continue to thrive without posing a hazard. It is always advisable to hire a certified arborist to inspect the trees frequently to ensure they are in their best shape or catch an issue early enough.

Are my trees dangerous?

While nothing replaces the need to have a certified arborist on speed dial, it is also essential to know and understand how to spot tree hazards. Being able to tell whether a tree on your property is dangerous can go a long way in helping you make an informed decision on whether you have a tree removal emergency or whether your tree requires a bit of TLC to thrive again.

Being able to spot a tree emergency early and contacting your arborist soon enough is one of the best ways to avert a tree crisis.

Here are the most common tree hazards to look out for.

Damaged, broken, or hanging limbs

This is probably the most obvious and visible tree hazard you can spot, yet one of the most challenging tree issues to diagnose. A hanging or broken tree branch is a common telltale sign that the tree is a danger. If you spot damaged, broken, or hanging limbs, it is often advisable to call a tree professional. They are best suited to assess the cracks and spots to determine the cause of how severe the damage is.  

A good inspector will come with specialized tree care tools that help them to inspect the tree more closely, especially the upper limbs. They will then advise you on the best way to handle the issue, depending on the severity of the tree damage.

Dead tree limbs

Apart from hanging and broken limbs, dead limbs pose a serious fall risk. Unless you are an experienced tree care specialist, diagnosing dead limbs can be highly difficult, blinding you to the impending danger. If not diagnosed early enough, dead limbs can remain hanging on the tree trunk for years as the decay slowly spreads to live tissue. Eventually, the infection spreads to the entire tree, making the problem worse and highly dangerous.

A certified arborist is best placed to identify dead limbs and advice on the best measures, be it tree trimming to completely get rid of the dead limb before the infection spreads or complete tree removal in the event of a spread infection.

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Bark changes

Ingrown bark tissues or included bark is a common issue that develops whenever two or more tree stems grow too close together. This creates a ‘V’ formation instead of a ‘U’ formation, which easily breaks or splits. While this issue can be prevented by proper pruning, sometimes trees can be improperly pruned over a long period, causing faulty formation. Improper pruning is also a common cause of tree decay, damage, and weakness.

When inspecting the tree, a certified arborist looks for signs of an included bark and assesses whether it is a risk concern. They also look for peeling or discolored tree bark, indicating an infection like fungus.

While some trees naturally shed their bark, this is not the case for most species. Therefore, it is important to understand the species of trees on your property to be able to recognize uncommon tree shedding.    

Leaning trees

If you notice that a tree is suddenly starting to lean on one side, a tree professional takes into account different factors to determine the root cause of the leaning. They take into account the length of the tree’s leaning and whether the leaning continues to change over time. The answer to these questions will help determine the outcome of the overall assessment of the safety of the tree.

A professional tree arborist in Tallahassee, Florida, also takes into account what a tree leans towards. If it leans over the house, car, or a commonly used area, they may suggest having it completely removed instead of waiting for it to fall naturally.

It is essential to know that some trees have a natural lean, which may not be a safety concern. The best way to know is through consulting with a certified arborist.

Damaged roots

During construction, it is common for root damage to occur and go unnoticed for years or even decades. This means that it is possible that tree damage occurred long before you started living on your property.

The roots are a vital component of any tree as they nourish the tree with soil components for perfect tree health. If the roots are damaged during a building project, it could start a slow tree death, which can be dangerous for anyone on the property.

Common signs of root damage include wilting, which occurs when the tree’s ability to take up moisture is damaged. Other common signs include undersized leaves, thinning foliage, limited growth, and dead branches.  

Often, the only remedy for a dying tree is complete tree removal followed by tree stump grinding to eliminate the dead roots completely.

damaged roots

Weak and exposed trees

Sometimes, you may need to clear some trees in your yard to accommodate a construction. This can sometimes pose a risk to the remaining trees. For instance, if you have a wooded lot and decide to clear part of the woods, you leave the rest of the trees at the edge of the construction line. Previously, these trees were in the middle of the woods and had windbreak from the now cut trees. Exposing these trees makes them more susceptible to wind damage.  

While the newly exposed trees may survive the changes, they will require regular inspection and maintenance to ensure they continue to thrive.

Poor tree structure

Trees often compete for sunlight in forests by growing tall with limited branch foliage. Outside of their natural habitat, trees are likely to develop large crowns with numerous branches and limbs. While this may be appealing and attractive in your yard, it can cause an overburden to the canopy, leading to tree structure weakness over time.

Trees with a compromised structure break and fall fastest in storms, posing a danger to your property and the people around the tree. A weakened tree structure is also a hazard even when there is no storm. It is important to have a tree specialist inspect your tree to determine whether it poses any risks.

Inspecting and correcting tree risks

The best way to fully know whether the tree on your property is a risk is by working with a professional tree inspector to determine how safe or not a tree is.

In the case of definite tree hazards, an action plan may include tree bracing or cabling for better support, structural tree pruning, reduction of the wind sail for improved wind flow, or complete removal of a tree if the damage is too severe.

The bottom line

As a tree owner in Tallahassee, Florida, it is always beneficial for you to be proactive when it comes to tree safety around your property. Bringing in a professional with extensive tree experience is one of the wisest decisions you can make to improve the security and safety of your property and the people near you.

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