As we know, trees can provide extensive benefits to your home property. In almost all cases, it’s best to keep a tree on your property if at all possible. However, living under or near a large tree also comes with its risks. How can you know when it’s time to let a tree go? Eventually, all trees become too old and/or unsafe to be kept on your property. In these cases, it’s much better to have a tree removed than to further risk damaging your home or endangering your family. If you see something strange is happening to your tree, do not hesitate. You should contact a certified arborist immediately so that they can identify the issue, if any, and let you know what steps should be taken next. Remember, a dying branch can fall at any moment, not just during a storm. Don’t leave something like this to chance.

There are ways to identify a tree that is at risk of falling or losing a branch. The first is to get to an area where you can see the tree in its entirety. Examine the tree carefully for any leaning. Obviously, trees can lean naturally. However, if you’re unsure if the tree has had this lean forever or if the lean is something new, you should contact an arborist. A leaning tree may be a sign that the entire tree is dead or dying and may soon fall over.

The second is to inspect the ground around the base of the tree. The tree’s roots can tell you much about the health of the tree. If the roots are visibly damaged or decaying, this means that the tree has lost some or all of its structural support, and may fall at any time. Look closely at the base of the tree where it touches the ground. Is there any space between the tree and the ground? If so, a new lean may have occurred and, again, the tree could be structurally unsound. A certified arborist can also determine if a tree has become extensively rotted or eaten away by insects by examining the amount of fungus and/or “sawdust” at the base of the tree.

The third is to inspect the tree’s trunk. Cracks or cavities can indicate that a tree is no longer structurally sound. Cavities don’t necessarily mean that a tree must be removed. They should, however, be examined for their extensiveness. Again, an arborist will know whether a cavity has become too large for the tree to sustain. Trunks also contain the most obvious clues to a dead, rotting, sick, or infested tree. Missing bark can be a clear indicator of any of these things; be sure the tree isn’t missing large pieces of bark.

The final way to identify an at-risk tree is a canopy inspection, which should be performed by a certified arborist. A canopy inspection can find the most dangerous and hard-to-spot dead branches on a tree. There may be no indication from the ground that a branch is dead or broken until long after the death or break occurs. A branch with dead leaves or missing bark is usually a clear indication that the branch is no longer being supported by the tree. Get it removed as soon as possible.