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Inspect Your Trees Before Leaves Hide Hazards

We still have plenty of winter left and using sunny, relatively warm days to walk your property and inspect your trees can be very therapeutic for any cabin fever. It could also save your valuable trees from an untimely death.

Trees respond to environmental stimuli so the frequent weather changes we experience in our corner of the world may be causing problems for your trees. When you inspect them, check their entire height from ground to crown.

Just above ground level, make sure you don’t have mulch volcanoes (mulch piled against the trunk) or snow piled against the trunk. Snow is nothing but water and mulch holds water, releasing it over time. If there are any injuries, even small injuries, excess water provides the perfect media for diseases, including rot.

As if the danger of mulch volcanoes and snow piled against the trunk, putting your trees at risk from water born diseases, isn’t enough, they also provide rodents with the perfect place to hide while they girdle the trunk, a problem that can be fatal or very expensive to repair. The expensive surgical procedure, called bridge grafting, involves small twigs being grafted all the way around the tree’s circumference to bridge the girdle. Your tree has to be extremely valuable to justify this investment.

As your eyes move up a tree, look for signs of deer browsing on the lower twigs. They’ll look like a ragged cut, as with very dull pruning shears. The best way to discourage the deer is to have the lower branches removed, if the tree is tall enough. Since deer can stand on their hind legs and reach 12 feet, I recommend turning the job over to our professional arborists, rather than risking life and limb trying to reach that height from a ladder.

Further up the tree, look for broken or weak branches. Broken branches that are just hanging up there present an imminent hazard. You never know when a good gust of wind will snap the broken portion free from the main part of the branch and come crashing to the ground. The results can be disastrous if people or property are beneath it. This job, too, is best left to the professionals.

While scanning the tree, mushroom like protrusions on the trunk may signal the presence of rot fungi inside the tree. What you see on the outside isn’t what’s damaging the tree. They’re fruiting bodies whose job is to spread spores around to infect other trees. The microscopic fungi inside the tree are eating away at the wood. Using electronic equipment, our arborists can examine the tree to determine the extent of the rot. Rot isn’t necessarily a death sentence. There are ways to clean it out, or at least slow its spread.

Some other problems to be on the lookout for include frost cracks (vertical cracks in the bark) caused by temperature fluctuations, winter burn on evergreens caused by desiccation, and salt damage affecting trees planted too close to salt treated roadways, driveways and walkways. If any of these conditions exist, it’s best to have a professional evaluation, resulting in  recommendations for remedying the situation.


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