Inspectors do not mention trees in an inspection report unless they are encroaching on a foundation and causing damage. However as part of rountine maintenance of your home, trees should be included.
Trees add to our enjoyment of outdoor experiences whether in forests, parks, or urban landscapes. Too often, we are unaware of the risks associated with defective trees, which can cause personal injury and property damage. A “hazard tree” is a tree with structural defects likely to cause failure of all or part of the tree, which could strike a “target.” A target can be a vehicle, building, or a place where people gather such as a park bench, picnic table, street, or backyard.
Inspecting trees is a home owner’s responsibility and should be done yearly. Tree inspections can be done at any time of year, leaf-on or leaf-off. To be thorough, inspect trees after leaf drop in fall, after leaf-out in spring, and routinely after severe storms.
Inspect trees carefully and systematically. Examine all parts of the tree, including the roots, root or trunk flare, main stem, branches, and branch unions. Be sure to examine all sides of the tree. Use a pair of binoculars to see branches high off the ground. Consider the following factors when inspecting trees: Tree condition, species, size and age.
Because of the natural variability of trees, the severity of their defects, and the different sites upon which they grow, evaluating trees for hazardous defects can be a complex process. Hazardous defects are visible signs that the tree is failing. Recognize the seven main types of tree defects: dead wood, cracks, weak branch unions, decay, cankers, root problems, and poor tree architecture. A tree with defects is not hazardous, however, unless some portion of it is within striking distance of a target.
Corrective actions begin with a thorough evaluation. If a hazardous situation exists, there are three recommended options for correcting the problem: move the target, prune the tree, or remove the tree.
Evaluating and treating hazard trees is complicated, requiring a certain knowledge and expertise. If you are not sure, have it evaluated by a professional. Consult your phone book under “Arborists” or “Tree Service.”