Recognizing Tree Hazards

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Coffeecraver, Oct 13, 2004.

  1. Coffeecraver

    Coffeecraver LawnSite Senior Member
    from VA.
    Posts: 793

    Tree Hazard Checklist

    Consider these questions...
    1. Are there large dead branches in the tree?
    2. Are there detached branches hanging in the tree?
    3. Does the tree have cavities or rotten wood along the trunk or in major branches?
    4. Are mushrooms present at the base of the tree?
    5. Are there cracks or splits in the trunk or where branches are attached?
    6. Have any branches fallen from the tree?
    7. Have adjacent trees fallen over or died?
    8. Has the trunk developed a strong lean?
    9. Do many of the major branches arise from one point on the trunk?
    10. Have the roots been broken off, injured, or damaged by lowering the soil level, installing pavement, repairing sidewalks, or digging trenches?
    11. Has the site recently been changed by construction, raising the soil level or installing lawns?
    12. Have the leaves prematurely developed an unusual color or size?
    13. Have trees in adjacent wooded areas been removed?
    14. Has the tree been topped or otherwise heavily pruned?

    Examples of Defects Present in Urban Trees...
    1. Regrowth from topping, line clearance or other pruning
    2. Electrical line adjacent to tree
    3. Broken or partially attached branch
    4. Open cavity in trunk or branch
    5. Dead or dying branches
    6. Branches arise at one point on the trunk
    7. Decay and rot present in old wounds
    8. Recent change in grade or soil level, or other construction

    Examples of Defects Present in Rural Trees...

    1. Recent site construction, grading and tree removal; clearing of forests for
    2. Previous tree failures in the local area
    3. Tree leaning near target
    4. Forked trunk; branches and stems equal in size
    5. Wet areas with shallow soil

    Managing Tree Hazards
    An arborist can help you manage the trees on your property and can provide
    treatments that may help make your tree safer, reducing the risk associated
    with hazardous trees. An arborist familiar with hazard tree evaluation may
    suggest one or more of the following:

    • Remove the target. While we can't move a home or a nearby power line, we
    can sometimes move picnic tables, cars, landscape features, etc. to prevent
    them from being hit by a falling tree.
    • Prune the tree. Remove the defective branches of the tree. Since
    inappropriate pruning may also weaken a tree, it is best done by an
    ISA Certified Arborist.
    • Cable and brace the tree. Provide physical support for weak branches and
    stems to increase their strength and stability.
    • Provide routine care. Mature trees need routine care in the form of water,
    fertilizer (in some cases), mulch, and pruning as dictated by the season and
    their structure.
    • Remove the tree. Some hazardous trees are best removed. If possible, plant
    a new tree in an appropriate place as a replacement.

    Recognizing and reducing tree hazards not only increases the safety of your
    property and that of your neighbors, but will also improve the tree's health
    and may increase its longevity!

    For a list of ISA Certified Arborists in your area, please visit If your tree is located near a power line,
    contact your local electrical utility.
  2. Neal Wolbert

    Neal Wolbert LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 407

    Have you heard much about the root washing technique for transplanting yet? I saw a demo of same at the ISA convention recently. Richard Baker a C.A. from Oregon takes freshly dug b&b's and gently washes all the dirt off the roots, does corrective root pruning and transplants in native soil using a "mudding in " process. Hasn't lost a tree yet and does the process in full leaf. Very interesting and informative. Neal
  3. jimmyq

    jimmyq LawnSite Member
    Posts: 39

    Neal, I would say its got some merit. We have been using bare root techniques at dormant season for years, with enough care, it should work on in season transplants. Pretty labor intensive though isnt it?
  4. Neal Wolbert

    Neal Wolbert LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 407

    Labor intensive for sure and only for the customer who is willing to pay for the best. I would expect it would take a long hour more to wash and prune the roots on a 2" tree and maybe another 1/2 hr. to mud it in. That adds alot to planting costs, but would go along way to insure plants thrive, not just survive. We are plagued in this area by planting depth problems especially in the low budget development sector and in the commercial highly competitive market. I own a treatment company and we are expected to help landscapes reach their potential after they are planted. I'm not very popular when I have to announce to a homeowner or manager that their brand new landscape was planted wrong and they should consider replanting, but that happens often. I'm sure you deal with the same things. I'm always on the hunt for the best way to do anything and this looks pretty promising. Neal
  5. Coffeecraver

    Coffeecraver LawnSite Senior Member
    from VA.
    Posts: 793

    I haven't heard of that.

    Normally an air spade is used to uncover girdled roots

    Id like to see the demo.
  6. impactlandscaping

    impactlandscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,332

    Good post , Norm. Now , if you could only get everyone to read it before posting all kinds of similar posts about trees here. Throw in some info about root flare, planting tips, and mychorrhizae use, and it could save alot of answering of similar questions.It seems to me there have been a lot of tree related / planting / pruning posts lately. This could save some time and server space . :) Once again, great post.

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