How To Identify Hazard Trees

Knowing whether or not you have a hazard tree is obviously very important, and ignoring the signs of a possible hazard tree can literally be a matter of life and death! Hazard trees, for the most part, are not really a concern until almighty Mother Nature decides to churn up the action. When one of our notorious summer storms comes rolling through, these “hazards” can become “weapons.” So if not properly dealt with ahead of time, you might be putting your property or family in danger.

How to Identify Hazard Trees?

The trees that surround us are essential for comfort and life. They produce much of the oxygen that we need to breathe and they do other things too such as providing shade, wind protection and beautifying landscapes. When you take a close look at how each tree functions you realize they are truly a gift from God. 

At some point in their growth, trees may lose some of their appeal. They can become ill, unsightly and pose a threat to both people and property. When an individual tree gets to this point it no longer benefits its owner but then becomes a liability. Sometimes tree weaknesses are not obvious and only become exposed after an event such as a strong storm.

When a tree has the potential to become a liability either as it stands or if impacted by a storm it becomes known as what is termed a hazard tree. As a home or business owner, you are responsible for any damage that the trees on your property cause.

The problem is how do you identify the problem trees in your landscape? In this article we will point out some things that indicate a tree has great potential to become a hazard.

Is One Of Your Trees In Danger Of Falling Or Losing A Branch?

The simplest definition of a hazard tree or problem tree is a tree that has a weakness or structural defect that can cause it to be a danger to people or property. While some tree weaknesses and defects are easy to spot, others are not. Although it’s impossible to predict every hazardous tree situation, many of them can be spotted and remedied before they turn into much bigger problems. The bigger the tree, the bigger its potential to pose problems if it’s weak or has a structural defect.

A Tree Analysis by a Skilled Arborist May Help Identify Problem Trees

If you have a professional tree expert come to your property, they can identify hazard trees by the following ways:

  • Tree Health – Of course unhealthy trees are the ones that pose the most risk to people and property. Signs such as atypical foliage color, sparse foliage and dead or dying branches are all indicators of unhealthy trees. Fungus, disease and poor overall looks are also signs of unhealthy trees.
  • Tree Imperfections/Defects – To properly assess a tree’s potential to become a hazard tree it must be inspected thoroughly from top to bottom. Everything from dead wood at the crown of a tree to cracks or splits in a tree trunk indicates a tree that poses a threat people and property under stormy conditions. Even looking at a tree’s exposed roots can tell you something about its overall health.
  • Improperly Pruned Trees – One of the most significant factors for a tree to become a hazard tree are trees that have never been pruned or were pruned improperly.
  • Unstable Site Conditions – Obstacles such as buildings that restrict a tree’s root growth and extremely wet soil conditions are factors that can create problem trees. Trees that have grown too close to buildings and power lines also pose a significant hazard.
  • Target Tree Location – Not all trees with poor health conditions or obvious defects are considered problem trees. Part of that has to do with a trees location. Weakened or unhealthy trees close to walkways and buildings are a big threat, while an unhealthy or obviously unstable tree in the middle of an open field is not.
Problem Tree Signs that You Can Spot

It does not take a trained arborist to spot the more obvious signs that a tree has the potential to become a hazard. Here are some of those signs:
  • A tree is growing or leaning in an unnatural way
  • A tree’s canopy has voids and sparse areas and several dying or dead branches
  • A tree has a trunk with signs of obvious decay or large cracks
  • A tree that has multiple trunks is more apt to split apart in a storm
  • Loose or buckling soil at the base of a tree can indicate a root problem
  • Fungi or Mushrooms growing at the base of a tree are often a sign of tree decay

Here are some more helpful tips on identifying hazard trees from the Hazard Disaster Education Network:

Our Trained Arborists Can Help

If you live in Port Orange, Ponce Inlet, Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Ormond Beach, Daytona Beach Shores or the surrounding areas, we at Aardvark Tree Service can help you assess the problem trees in your landscape. Give us a call at 386-310-8022, and the quotes and advice are always free!

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