They’re trees. And as with so many things in life, proper maintenance is critical. Keeping your trees healthy will allow you to continue to enjoy them and their benefits — one of which is providing enough oxygen for four people every day!
Maintenance also will reduce the risk of a tree falling on your home or your car (or even worse, someone else’s home or car).
Here are some tips from the National Arbor Day Foundation to help keep trees healthy, identify warning signs and address problems. A healthy tree that you care for properly — and regularly — is far less likely to become a hazard. Remember, prevention is key!
Inspect your trees often This applies to all seasons! The sooner you spot a problem, the sooner you can take corrective action — and potentially save your tree. Check trees regularly each year, and have a qualified arborist inspect them annually.
Plant the right species Brittle trees can produce weak limbs that fall and injure people or property. Examples include Silver Maples, Lombardy Poplars, Box Elders, and Willows.
Prune the right way, at the right time Trees should first be pruned when they are young, and then at regular intervals as they age. Make the cut outside the branch collar, and never allow trees to be topped.
Plant in the right place Don’t plant trees that will grow to be large close to your home or under power lines.
Learn to spot problems According to the National Arbor Day Foundation, there are several key things to consider when evaluating your trees for potential issues.
- The tree’s history: Has it been topped? Have branches broken? Have large limbs been lost unexpectedly?
- Branch quality: Dead limbs are dangerous — they can fall easily and are a big red flag. Take prompt action. If you see branches that cross or rub, prune as soon as possible, because that can lead to weak spots.
- Appearance: Vigorous trees can be determined by the amount of leaf cover, as well as the color, size and condition of its leaves. If a tree’s trunk is forked, that’s a signal of weakness.
- Decay: If you see cavities, disfiguration or fungi on the trunk, large branches or roots, this may indicate decay. It doesn’t automatically mean that a tree is a hazard, but it means you should closely monitor it. If there’s a large amount of sound wood surrounding internal rot, for example, the tree may still be safe.
If you have a dead or dying tree, it should be promptly removed unless it is in an area where structures or people won’t be threatened. And have an expert do the job — bringing down a large tree is extremely dangerous, and accidents can result in severe damage, injury, and even death.
The law typically holds the owner responsible for damage or injury caused by a defective tree. So don’t forget about them when you’re working in the yard or examining your landscaping. Keeping your trees healthy can limit the potential for disaster — in addition to keeping your space beautiful and vibrant.
Top image by Flickr user Hilary Halliwell used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.