How much attention do you give the trees in your yard? For many homeowners, the answer is none. Many of us believe that trees are a part of nature and do not require any maintenance or upkeep. While this may be true of trees deep within the forest, trees sharing our civilized society with us are faced with abundant external influences. A tree that has incurred damage from human interference or environmental forces can fail and become a safety hazard to people, automobiles and buildings.
Proper planting, maintenance and care can prevent a tree from becoming hazardous in many cases. Here we address a few of the preventable circumstances that can cause a tree to become hazardous:
-Planting mistakes. Even with the best of intentions, a person without tree care knowledge and experience can cause more harm than good when planting a tree. Some common mistakes include planting in the wrong season or soil conditions, inappropriate hole depth and planting too close to buildings, sidewalks or other structures. When a tree is planted, its anticipated mature size as well as the location of sidewalks, driveways, buildings, power lines and future obstructions must be considered.
-Amateur maintenance. While any attempt to maintain your trees may be appreciated, there are potential dangers associated with do-it-yourself tree care. Though pruning may seem like an innocent enough endeavor, improper pruning can lead to tree disease and death. Pruning branches flush with the trunk and using wound paint are two common mistakes, both of which stem from widely held misconceptions about proper pruning techniques. Topping, or removing portions of a tree’s canopy, is another mistake that can lead to disease and decay. Experts agree that topping impairs the health of trees and makes them more likely to become hazards.
-Future construction. Construction near an existing tree is a major threat to the tree’s health and can cause it to become hazardous. Damage may stem from the construction of a new structure, digging for utility lines or the addition of a road or driveway, to name a few. Damage to the tree itself or its roots as well as changes to the ground caused by construction can lead to the death of a tree. Trees can incur damage that leads them to become hazardous even in cases when symptoms are not immediately apparent. Trees that may have been subjected to damage should be inspected by a certified tree expert so that potential hazards can be identified and addressed.
Some visible signs that a tree may be hazardous include cracks, decay, cankers (sunken or missing bark), and weak structure. However, a tree can be a hazard without exhibiting any obvious signs. The tree’s location (such as being near pavement or concrete) and external threats (such as automobiles driving over the roots) must also be considered. If you own a tree in question, you are encouraged to consult with a local tree service expert for a Hazard Tree Inspection.