How Do I Decide When to Remove a Tree on My Property?
March 2, 2021
It can be challenging to make the decision to have a tree removed, especially if you have an emotional attachment and especially if you aren’t sure what to look for. The cost of tree work is often a deterrent for homeowners, and many people fail to keep up with the regular maintenance that could prevent dead trees in the first place. Sometimes tree death is an unavoidable part of the tree’s life cycle, but other times it’s the result of invasive pests and parasites that have zapped the tree of its nutrients. In either case, the major concerns are structural defects, brittle branches, and limb breakage.
When dead trees are near homes, cars, other structures, and neighboring properties, dead trees and fallen limbs can cause expensive damage, injury, and even fatalities.
How Do I Know If My Tree Is Dead?
There are a few tell-tale signs that your tree is dead. These signs and symptoms include:
- If you scratch away a small piece of bark and the inside is brittle, dry, and brown, it’s likely your tree is dead or near-death.
- A large collection of mushrooms and other fungi at the base of the trunk
- Peeling bark or cracks in the trunk
- Noticeable cavities in the tree’s trunk and supportive branches
- A large number of dead or leafless branches
- New growth is thin with few buds
If you notice any of these symptoms in a tree on your property, it is part of your duty as a homeowner to resolve the matter efficiently and effectively before it can cause greater safety concerns. As mentioned above, many homeowners are turned off by the cost of tree removal and attempt to complete tree work themselves. This practice is not advisable, and it is incredibly labor-intensive. For this reason, it is recommended that you call a certified arborist to help you decide the best path forward for your tree.
Weighing the Impact of Your Diseased, Dying, or Dead Tree
For many people, deciding to cut down a tree can be an emotional experience. The biggest trees can be decades — or even hundreds — of years old, and their death can come with grief. If you suspect you may need to cut down a tree on your property, it may be beneficial to ask yourself some or all of the following questions:
- Is the tree a desirable species for the area? Undesirable tree species include Bradford pear, tree of heaven, empress tree, willows, black locust, mimosa, Norway maple, mulberry, poplars, box elder, and Siberian elm.
- Does the tree appear to be healthy? If 50% or more of the tree is diseased, damaged, or otherwise sickly looking, it should probably be removed.
- Have you noticed any vertical cracks, open wounds, or dead branches? These signs suggest trunk damage, which may spell bad news for your tree.
- Is the trunk hollow? Pests and diseases will eat away at the internal structures of trees and leave a hollow trunk. Hollow trees may be more likely to fall. If more than one-third of the tree is hollow or rotten, it’s a good idea to pursue removal.
- How many dead branches are there? Are they large? Large dead branches can be a regular part of the tree’s life cycle, or it could mean that your tree is dying. If more than 25% of the tree’s branches appear to be dead or dying, you should call a certified arborist for advice.
- Are the dead branches in a cluster on one side of the tree? Sometimes only part of a tree is dying or diseased, but it can still be dangerous. Lopsided trees are hazardous, and it can be a symptom of more significant trunk damage.
- Is the tree under power lines? If your tree is taller or entangled in power lines, you must seek professional treatment for your tree as quickly as possible.
- Is the tree leaning? Leaning trees are already structurally compromised. Leaning trees usually indicate weakened roots, which requires immediate removal.
- How accessible is the tree? New construction is one of the leading causes of tree removal. Trees are often removed during construction projects and those that are not typically needed to be removed in as little as 3-5 years.
- Will removing the tree have a positive impact on the surrounding wildlife and plant life? One of the big things to consider before you remove a tree is the health and wellness of the surrounding wildlife and plants. A certified arborist will be able to provide expert advice on the best way to help plant life on your property flourish after tree removal.