Four Signs It’s Time to Break Up with Your Tree
During this month of love, it’s important to know when to call it quits. That’s what gardening is all about—trying something out and learning from your mistakes.
Sometimes you know for sure when it’s time to “break up” with your tree. Other times, you’re not so sure. If the trees or plants in your yard entered winter stressed, their problems are worse now.
Identifying a sick tree is easy, says R.J. Laverne, manager of education and training for The Davey Tree Expert Company. He suggests a simple visual inspection to help homeowners determine the right time to replace a sick tree.
“Visually inspecting your tree is a four-part assessment, starting from the ground up,” says Laverne. “If you see a problem at the base, chances are the tree has more significant problems at the top.”
“It’s important to know the difference between a dead and declining tree,” says Laverne. “Usually, sick trees can be saved, but a dead tree is a huge risk. That’s why even though it’s still cold, you should get out and check your tree. The sunshine will do you good, and you’ll also be keeping your home safe!”
The good news is you can help reduce that risk in under a minute with a quick test. Using your fingertip or a knife, scratch one of the tree’s twigs. If it’s moist and green underneath, your tree’s alive. If it’s brown and brittle, scratch a couple more to see if any are fresh green underneath.
If you’re still concerned after you perform the scratch test, try a simple seasonal inspection to catch sick trees before they become a danger.
Visually inspecting your tree is a four-part assessment, starting from the ground up. If you see a problem at the base, chances are the tree has more significant problems at the top.
Step 1: Get to the root of it. Start low and examine the base of the tree. Pay attention to the tree’s roots, looking for soft spots, decay, mushrooms or other fungi.
Step 2: Provide support. The collar is where the trunk and roots meet at the soil surface. Pull back the grass or ground-cover to check for decay. If bark is missing, falling off, broken, or if there are cracks in the trunk, those are signs of trouble that need expert attention.
Step 3: Examine what’s going on inside. Look for large cracks or splits in the trunk. These indicate structural weakness in the tree and need careful evaluation. Trunk swelling, which is an overgrowth area of bark, also signifies advanced decay. A certified arborist can determine the extent of deterioration using a probe.
Step 4: Pay close attention. Look up to the crown, or top of the tree. From the ground, look for broken branches or limbs with missing bark. Come spring, search again for bare branches that lack leaf or bud growth.
After performing this four-part assessment, if your tree is indeed showing symptoms of decline beyond normal seasonal changes, the next step is to determine its potential hazard. A certified arborist can assess the tree using proper tools and determine if the tree can be treated or if it is best to replace it.
Remember, acting now will not only keep the tree and area around it safe, but it also will decrease your costs. Proactively treating trees is much more cost-effective than removing it later.
Have more questions about the trees growing in your yard? Contact Davey Tree for a free consultation. www.davey.com
The Davey Tree Expert Company’s approximately 9,000 employees provide diversified tree services, grounds maintenance and environmental services for the residential, utility, commercial and government markets throughout the U.S. and Canada. Davey has provided Proven Solutions for a Growing World since 1880 and has been employee-owned for 38 years. For more information, visit www.davey.com.