It is an owner's responsibility to provide for the safety of trees on his or her property. However, evaluating the seriousness of these defects is best done by a tree expert.

Trees or parts of trees may fail and cause injury to people or damage to property. We call trees in such situations hazardous, to signify the risk involved with their presence. While every tree has the potential to fall, only a small number actually hit something or someone.

Regular tree care will help identify hazardous trees and the risk they present. Once the hazard is recognized, steps may be taken to reduce the likelihood of the tree falling and injuring someone.

Tree Hazard Checklist:

Consider these questions:

  1. Are there large dead branches in the tree?
  2. Are there detached branches hanging in the tree?
  3. Does the tree have cavities or rotten wood along the trunk or in major branches?
  4. Are mushrooms present at the base of the tree?
  5. Are there cracks or splits in the trunk or where branches are attached?
  6. Have any branches fallen from the tree?
  7. Have adjacent trees fallen over or died?
  8. Has the trunk developed a strong lean?
  9. Do many of the major branches arise from one point on the trunk?
  10. Have the roots been broken off, injured or damaged by lowering the soil level, installing pavement, repairing sidewalks or digging trenches?
  11. Has the site recently been changed by construction, raising the soil level or installing lawns?
  12. Have the leaves prematurely developed an unusual color or size?
  13. Have trees in adjacent wooded areas been removed?
  14. Has the tree been topped or otherwise heavily or improperly pruned?


Managing Tree Hazards:

One of these treatments may help make your tree safer...Reducing the risk associated with hazardous trees can take many forms. An arborist familiar with hazard tree evaluation may suggest one or more of the following:

  1. Remove the target. While we can't move a home or nearby power line, we can sometimes move picnic tables, cars, landscape features, ets. to prevent them from being hit by a falling tree.
  2. Prune the tree. Remove the defective branches of the tree. Since inappropriate pruning may also weaken a tree, it is best done by a professional.
  3. Cable and brace the tree. Provide physical support for weak branches and stems to increase their strength and stability.
  4. Provide routine care. Mature trees need routine care in the form of water, fertilizer (in some cases), mulch and pruning as dictated by the season and their structure.
  5. Remove the tree. Some hazardous trees are best removed. If possible, plant a new tree in an appropriate place as a replacement.

Recognizing and reducing tree hazards not only increases the safety of your property and that of your neighbors, but will also improve the tree's health and may increase its longevity.

Trees are assets to your home and community and deserve the best possible care...

If you answered yes to any of the questions in the Tree Hazard Checklist, your tree should be examined by a tree expert.

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