How to Know When It’s Time to Remove Your Tree

dead tree
Trees provide so much beauty and peace to the landscape that it can be challenging to let them go. However, a tree that appears healthy to the untrained eye could be a catastrophe waiting to happen.

When no other safe management alternative, such as trimming or disease mitigation, is feasible, tree removal is usually used as a last resort. Dead, decaying, or otherwise hazardous trees can cause thousands of dollars in damage, not to mention the additional cost of personal injury. Often, a tree may not appear threatening until a storm or strong winds exposes its weaknesses. As a tree owner, you are accountable for any damage or harm resulting from the failure to remove a tree that should have been taken down. The good news is that you can usually identify if a tree is in distress by examining its branches, trunk, roots, and position. And if you need a keen eye, one our Columbia Tree Services can help you in diagnosing your tree’s condition.

As a homeowner or property manager, it’s good to know what to look out in the event that you need tree removal. Below are some warning signs that your tree needs professional inspection and may need removal.

When It's Time to Call an Arborist

Large, Dead Limbs are Observable in the Crown of the Tree

These are sometimes referred to as widow-makers since they may fall for no apparent reason and cause harm to others below. For safety reasons, if more than half of the tree is dead or damaged, it should be removed.

There are Indications of Infection

Crown dieback, fractures (deep splits in the bark), deformed or discolored leaves, soft brittle wood, and the presence of fungi are all signs that your tree has an infection. Furthermore, indications of insect infestation include feeding galleries, emerging holes, and woodpeckers feeding heavily on the tree.

The Trunk has Been Damaged

Internal degradation is indicated by fissures or splits in the trunk, major wounds, and dead branch stubs. Many people are unaware that trees can live for years with internal deterioration. Some trees can withstand internal rotting and stay standing for a while, but it’s just a matter of time before they fall. Trees with several trunks (also known as “leaders”) may develop structural problems in the future.

There are Signs of Root Damage or Deficiency

Although root problems are not always obvious, indications such as soil heaving or the presence of fungi around the tree’s base can signal that there is an issue with the roots.

Your Tree is Not Developing Properly

Examine the health and vigor of your tree in comparison to the trees around it. Thin leaf coverage, damaged foliage, and stunted growth all indicate that your tree is in distress. One of our arborists can diagnose the cause.

The Tree Trunk is Hollow Inside

A hollow trunk signals that the tree is severely compromised and poses a serious risk. A general rule of thumb is if one-third of the tree is rotting or hollow, it must be removed.

The Tree Suddenly and Unexpectedly Leans to One Side

Although not all leaning trees are dangerous, a tree that abruptly leans to one side may have structural issues.

You Notice Sprouts Near the Tree's Base

Also known as Epicormic shoots, these sprouts signal that the tree is significantly stressed and should be examined by a tree expert.

The Tree is Close to Power Lines

A tree that grows into electrical wires can become a hazard and may require removal by our tree service.

The Tree is Situated in Close Proximity to a House or Other Structure

It may be necessary to cut down trees that are growing too close to a building or that are encroaching on its space. At the very least, they should be routinely pruned. In general, large trees should be kept at least 20 feet away from any structure.

Other Considerations Before Removing a Tree

Removing dead or dying trees may not always be necessary if they are located in a forest or away from people and buildings. These trees can provide a home and a safe haven for wildlife.

Although some tree failures occur suddenly and without warning, it’s comforting to know that the majority of them may be avoided with preventative care. The best time to examine and evaluate a tree is before the worst of the spring/summer storms and heavy winter snowfall. Most tree removal jobs are dangerous for the typical home or property owner, so if you see any of the above red flags, call one of our tree professionals today at (573) 303-0860.

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