There’s one thing Oregon has no shortage of: trees.
A tree can be one of the most valuable pieces of the landscape on your property. A tree can protect you from the hot sun in the summertime. It can provide a home for a variety of birds, animals and insects. It can give your home ambiance and curb appeal. And it can provide you with a view outside, while keeping your interior private from passersby.
But a tree only has value if it’s a healthy tree. Unhealthy trees can put a homeowner in danger of having dead wood fall and cause damage, or having the entire tree fall and destroy the property.
Trying to determine the best course of action for a tree on your property? Use these as a guide to help you determine the best course of action for tree removal.
#1 The Tree Has Substantial Damage
Sometimes it’s as easy as looking at a tree to determine its care. If a tree has significant damage, where over fifty percent of the tree is affected, it may be time for tree removal. A tree in decline won’t suddenly die; in many cases, it can live for many years. But the more damage it has, the more it will need care, including removal of dead limbs.
Look to the appearance of a tree to help guide you. A tree that has misshapen leaves, a great deal of dying or dead branches, and sides that aren’t developing at the same pace as the rest of the tree, or abnormal growth may indicate the tree has sustained substantial damage and tree removal is eminent.
#2 The Tree Is Low Quality
Some species of trees are more desirable than others. Undesirable trees can have a variety of characteristics that make them disadvantageous:
- fast growing
- weak wood that is prone to breakage
- messy trees that drop heavy amounts of debris throughout the year
- shallow roots that can damage landscaping and pavement
- invasive species that reseed in landscaping easily
Undesirable trees can include black locusts, box elder, mulberry, poplars, and willows, among others.
#3 The Tree Trunk Has Sustained Damage
In some cases, damage goes beyond the limbs and extends to the tree trunk as well. Look closely at the trunk, do you see vertical cracks running up the tree? Are there dead branch stubs in multiple places? Are there large wounds that suggest internal decay? As a general rule of thumb, a tree trunk should never have more than 25 percent damage to the trunk in order to survive. If more, it may be time to consider tree removal.
#4 The Tree Trunk Is Hollow
The trunk of the tree is the most vital part of the tree. It’s what sustains life from the roots to the branches and leaves. Over time, a variety of issues can cause the trunk to hollow out. A tree can live for many years with a hollow trunk, providing nutrients to the rest of the tree through its outer edges. But the more damage a tree has, the more risk it has in falling. In general, if a tree has a trunk that is more than one-third hollow, it may be time to consider tree removal.
#5 The Largest Branches Are Dead
Wind and storms often damage a tree from the top down. Large branches that extend up and out can be cracked and damaged. And because of their size and height, they become a potential problem to people and the property below. Start by removing the largest branches. If they are crossed or rubbing (either against each other, landscaping, or your house), they should be removed. Narrow branch angles from the trunk out are also more at risk of splitting and causing damage below. If less than one-quarter of branches are damaged and must be removed, the tree still has a strong chance of survival.
#6 One Side Of The Tree Is Dead
When one side of a tree begins dying, it’s a sign of internal damage. It may be a sign of root damage or a sign of disease impacting a portion of the tree. A professional tree arborist can assess the damage and help you make the best decision.
#7 There Are Sprouts Along The Base Of The Tree
When a new tree begins to sprout along the base of the tree, it’s a response to stress within the tree. It provides growth to the root system in an attempt to relocate the tree to a better, healthier environment.
#8 Tree Rot Or Fungus Is Present
Here in Oregon, not all mushrooms growing underneath a tree are a sign of concern. But if you notice mushrooms in abundance and over extended periods of time, it could be an indication of root disease. It’s best to have your tree evaluated as soon as possible.
#9 House Or Landscaping Improvements Have Occurred Near The Tree
Tree roots can be easily damaged when digging or building near a tree. If more than 50 percent of roots have sustained damage, tree removal may be best.
#10 The Tree Is In Close Proximity To Power Lines
Trees growing in close proximity to power lines can be detrimental to both the tree and the property owner. In wet Oregon weather, electricity can arc as much as ten feet from power lines to tree foliage and ground out, causing power failure. Trees need to be consistently thinned to avoid being within this radius.
#11 The Tree Is Leaning
A leaning tree is a sign there is a problem with the tree’s roots and base. If a tree is leaning more than 15 percent from a vertical position, it’s probably time to have the tree removed.
#12 How Much Space Is Available For Growth?
Have you ever planted landscaping too close together, leaving very little room for both to mature? Or maybe a tree’s size was underestimated, and it’s too close to the siding or roof of your home? If a tree continues to give you problems in the coming years because of its placement in your home’s landscaping, it may be better to remove it now before it has the chance to grow in size.
#13 The Tree’s Location
Often, trees take root in places that are less than perfect for substantial growth. If a tree is balancing on a rocky ledge or on the shore near a body of water, for example, they will often have problems maintaining proper growth requirements. Does the tree you are evaluating have all it needs to sustain life in the forseeable future? If not, it may be time to remove it to control potential damage sooner rather than later.
#14 The History Of The Tree
Many things can impact a tree’s survival. And in some cases, it can take years for the problem to materialize. How often has the tree been pruned over the years? When was the tree planted and under what conditions? Has the tree received substantial damage in the past? Sometimes you can pinpoint a problem and date it back to a situation that may have had detrimental side effects. Share any knowledge with your tree specialist to determine if tree removal is the appropriate action at this time.
Guest post by:
Aaron Sanders has worked in landscaping for 15 years and continues to be an asset to Mr. Tree Services. He firmly believes that your attitude determines your altitude in life.