What’s Wrong With My Tree? Do I Need a Tree Service?

If you suspect the health of your tree is in decline, I always recommend following a course of observation. Examining the tree yourself may avoid a visit from a professional tree service. Here are some tips to help you figure out what’s wrong with your tree.

Tree History

The first step is to review the history of the tree.

  • What type of tree is it?
  • How old is it?
  • Is your climate zone compatible with the tree’s needs?
  • How long has it been on the site?
  • What are the elements of the hardscape such as sidewalks, curbs, decks, pools, and sprinkler systems, that are close enough to the tree to affect its health?

Examine Your Tree Up Close & Check the Roots

Once the tree’s history has been reviewed, the tree can be examined for clues to its health. Start at the root crown because so many of the threats to the tree’s health start there. Is the root crown flare above ground and in good condition?

Three-quarters of urban tree deaths can be attributed to root damage. Some trees, such as the cedar, go into decline almost immediately if they suffer root damage, while others, like the oak, may take five years or more to show the effects of root damage, and people often fail to associate the decline in a tree’s health with changes in its root system.

Do not cover the root crown with soil or mulch. While we strongly recommend using mulch as a way to conserve soil moisture and keep it friable, it is not advisable to cover the root crown itself. This area needs to breathe.

Condition of the Soil

The condition of the soil is an important factor in determining the health of the tree. What is the soil’s ability to absorb water? If the area under the tree is kept clear by frequent raking and leaf blowing or is subject to heavy foot or vehicle traffic, the soil often becomes compacted and may no longer allow water to penetrate the root zone.

A tree may be exposed to adequate amounts of water, but if the water runs off before the tree can access it, there is clearly a hazard to the long-term health of the tree.

Tree Damaged from Gardening Tools

Gardening tools can be a serious hazard to trees. As our examination moves from the soil up the trunk of the tree, we look for indications of weed whip damage, caused by nylon string trimmers, which can appear as bruised or torn tissue in the bark. This is an all too common threat to trees, and with thin-skinned species such as citrus, birch, ficus, and camellias, as well as with almost all young trees, weed whip damage can often result in their death, as the flow of water and nutrients is cut off by the disruption of the cambium layer.

Check the Bark

The condition of the bark is another indicator of the health of the tree. Bark loss is a sign of decline and indicates an interruption of the vascular supply. It can be caused by damage to the root system or improper pruning. There are some trees such as eucalyptus, birch, and Chinese elm, that peel superficial bark naturally, which is why it is crucial to identify your trees and know their characteristics in order to observe them properly. Healthy bark has a firm attachment to the tree and shows and shows good expansion with fresh deposition of tissue, an indicator of the tree’s vigor.

Don’t Neglect the Leaves

As the examination moves up the tree, the condition of the leaf is another gauge of the tree’s vitality. Healthy leaves are bright, fresh, and hydrated. Curling indicates an insufficient supply of water, while yellowing leaves often indicate a nutrient deficiency.

Call a Professional Tree Service

If you think your tree is showing signs of instability, decay, and rot, it may be time to get in touch with a professional arborist or tree surgeon service near you. Leaving the problem for too long may only end up leaving the tree compromised.

5 Most Frequently Asked About Tree Services Answered

When it comes to taking care of trees on your property, there sure are a lot of questions that can come up. Here we’ll try to get to the bottom of the top 5 questions we get asked to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about tree services. Keep reading for more information!

1. When Would I Need Tree Service?

There are many situations where a professional tree-cutting service can be of use, especially in emergencies. Here are some of the most common reasons to contact a professional tree service.

  • Presence of dead limbs
  • Presence of dead or dying trees
  • Insect and disease problems
  • Trees damaging a building/vehicle
  • Branches rubbing on the roof
  • Beginning construction
  • Storm clean-up
  • Maintenance to prevent storm damage
  • Pruning and professional tree management (including proper tree selection and planting for a landscape project)

2. What is a Certified Arborist?

An arborist is an individual who is trained in the art and science of planting, caring for, and maintaining individual trees. ISA Arborist Certification provides a measurable assessment of an individual’s knowledge and competence required to provide proper tree care.

Certification, however, cannot guarantee or assure quality performance, so you always have to compare companies in your area to get a better idea of the type of service you will be receiving.

3. Do I Really Need an Arborist?

Hiring an arborist is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Proper tree care is an investment that can lead to substantial returns. Well-cared-for trees are attractive and can add considerable value to your property. Poorly maintained trees, on the other hand, can be a significant liability. If you do require any tree work that includes pruning or removing trees, especially large trees,  always keep in mind that it can be dangerous work.

That is why certified arborists are also insured for your protection. This type of work should only be done by those trained and equipped to work safely in trees.

4. When is a Tree Considered Hazardous?

A hazardous tree is defined as any defective tree, or tree part, that poses a high risk upon its failure or fracture to cause injury to people or damage to property.  A hazardous tree has one or more defects that decrease its structural integrity and gives it an increased potential for failure. These can include easily detectable signs including cracks, decayed wood, weak and dead branches, poor tree architecture, root problems, and more.

Not All Hazardous Trees Be Saved

A trained tree inspector implementing a hazardous tree management program can help make an unsafe environment reasonably safe again.  There are guidelines and corrective actions to remedy identified hazardous situations. However, in many cases, a hazardous tree will have to be removed.

5. Why Do Trees Need Pruning?

Pruning is necessary to maintain or improve the health, appearance, and safety of your trees. Moreover, many of these pruning techniques are vital and include:

  • Eliminating branches that rub each other
  • Removing limbs that interfere with wires, building facades, gutters, roofs, chimneys, windows or obstruct streets or sidewalks
  • Removing dead or weak limbs that pose a hazard or may lead to decay
  • Removing diseased or insect-infested limbs
  • Creating better structures to lessen wind resistance and reduce the potential for storm damage
  • Training young trees
  • Removing limbs damaged by adverse weather conditions
  • Thinning or removal of unnecessary branches
  • Improving the shape or silhouette of the tree

If you have questions about tree services, don’t hesitate to ask the professionals. We will be able to give you the answers and help that you need. Remember, it is important to get all of the information before making a decision. The five questions that were answered in this blog post are only a starting point. There are many other aspects of tree service that you need to consider before hiring someone. Do your research and then make an informed decision.