Recognizing Tree Risk

We can all appreciate trees—the ability they have to clean the air, provide oxygen, save water, help prevent soil erosion and help conserve energy. They are a real asset to our ecosystem. In fact, a study in the journal Scientific Reports found that 10 more trees on your street could make you feel 7 years younger.

But, despite the health and aesthetic value of trees, they can also be dangerous.


Whether humans or nature caused a tree to shift from helpful to hazardous, it’s important that something is done about it. You don’t want a tree limb to fall on property or people, have trees spread disease or have a fire start due to power line interference.

Take advantage of these warm days and spend time in your yard.  Assess your trees to see if things have changed over the winter months. Tree assessments should also be done after windy and stormy days, but the whole season of winter can be hard on trees.  Now is one of the best times for homeowners or an arborist to visually see any structural defects before the trees fully leaf out.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself in order to decide if a tree is a hazard:

  • Most important: Are there any trees or large branches that could fall on a power line? These need to be addressed immediately.
  • Are there large, dead branches in the tree?
  • Are there detached branches hanging in the tree?
  • Does the tree have cavities or rotten wood along the trunk or in major branches?
  • Are mushrooms present at the base of the tree?
  • Are there cracks or splits in the trunk or where branches are attached?
  • Have any branches fallen from the tree?
  • Have adjacent trees fallen over or died?
  • Has the trunk developed a strong lean?
  • Do many of the major branches arise from one point on the trunk?
  • Have the roots been broken off, injured, or damaged by lowering the soil level, installing pavement, repairing sidewalks, or digging trenches?
  • Has the site recently been changed by construction, raising the soil level, or installing lawns?
  • Have the leaves prematurely developed an unusual color or size?
  • Have trees in adjacent wooded areas been removed?
  • Has the tree been topped or otherwise heavily pruned?

Disclaimer: Do not attempt to fix a risky tree on your own. It requires the skills and experience of a certified arborist to remove a hazard safely. If you take in the work yourself, you could end up making things more dangers – or worse, hurting yourself. Call one of our certified arborists today to help you access the risk and create a plan of action.