Identifying Hazardous Trees

Identifying Hazardous Trees

Remember the storm that blew through Portland last year? How the wind lashed the trees and every booming gust sent your pup or kitty or kids diving for cover?

Remember branches breaking and falling all around Multnomah County? When both I-5 North and Oregon Highway 30 closed because of trees and mud on the road? Remember when an actual tornado ripped through Southwest Washington, lifting branches, leaves and even a trampoline or two and dropping them like a bunch of pick-up sticks?

Remember? What year was that again? It was last year (a few times last year, actually), but it could be this year or any year. Winters in western Oregon and Washington are always wet. Storms blow through, shattering limbs and uprooting trees from the water-soaked earth.

If storms wreck your trees, give us a call for pruning and dangerous tree removal in Portland. Inexpensive Tree Care will remove dangling and split branches, safely take down a dangerous tree and grind away stumps.

Inspect Trees for Damage

It’s a good idea to inspect your trees before and after a big storm and from time to time through the year. Don’t check them during windy weather. If you think one of your large trees may be damaged, don’t stand under it. Use binoculars to get a better look without having to get too near.

Damaged trees pose a threat to people and property. And, it’s not just winter storms that hurt trees. Disease and insects can also make trees weak. The bigger the tree, the more hazardous it is.

A Douglas Fir, for example, can grow several feet in diameter and many times taller than a home. Imagine if a tree that large were to fall on your house. The picture of one of these giants crashing down on a building is enough to send any homeowner diving under the bed with the various two- and four-legged young ‘uns.

But, there’s nothing like knowledge and action to calm your nerves. If you’re worried about your trees, give them a close look. Winter is an ideal time to get a good view. When branches are bare, it’s easier to see problems.

If you find a problem with your tall trees, contact us. We’ll take a look and recommend the next step. Here’s what to check:

Dead or Broken Branches

storm damaged trees

A broken limb can fall and injure someone or damage your property. Loggers call these branches “widow makers” for a reason. Sometimes branches can be cracked but still firmly attached, posing no immediate threat of falling. We can prune these after we remove other hazardous branches.

When a partially attached branch pulls away, it can peel away the bark near the break. If a limb, loses more than a third of its circumference of bark, you should remove it. The same goes for a trunk or tree.

Cavities in the Trunk or Branches

Large Tree Cavity

A neglected bark injury can turn into a cavity or hollow. Any stress, such as fires, storms, fungus or improper pruning can turn into a cavity. These stressors expose a tree’s heartwood. Without bark to protect it, heartwood is vulnerable to fungal infections which can lead to decay.

Squirrels, birds, raccoons and other animals love to make decaying trees their homes. The hollow makes a great front door. Carpenter ants will also attack a decaying tree via the cavity. These insects dig paths throughout the trunk.

Although the ants leave behind a wood preserving enzyme, the tunnels collect water and promote rot. When the rot and decay consume enough of the tree, it becomes weakened and can fall in high winds.

Rot and Fungus

TGree Root Disease

Conifers, especially Douglas firs (Oregon’s state tree), are common throughout Portland and the rest of the Pacific Northwest. These tree species are prone to fungus and rot. Root diseases, also called root and butt rots, can spread for decades if left to persist. They eventually cause a tree to fall.

Five of the most havoc-wreaking root diseases are laminated root rot (the most dangerous in regards to tree death), Armillaria root disease, annosus root disease, black-stain root disease and tomentosus root rot. Some of the symptoms of such infections include:

  • Mushrooms or ‘conks’ that grow on the roots or on root collar

  • Basal resin (sap) flow and stained bark

  • Presence of bark beetles

  • Fading foliage, dying branches, premature shedding of older needles and irregular shoot growth throughout the tree’s crown

  • Cone crops showing signs of distress

Root diseases are not a death sentence, however. In the past, a client asked us to remove a large, hazardous Douglas Fir tree displaying conks within a group of infected firs. Only one tree required removal, while four others survived.

Cracks in the Trunk or Branches

Cracked TreeCracks can form from frost, frequent high winds (especially when preceded by rot), lightning strikes, and substantial decay. This kind of structural defect in the trunk, or main stem of the tree, can cause the tree or parts of it to fail. Sometimes cracks caused by frost can heal, but in general a crack is a sign of decay, and the larger the crack the more likely it is that the tree will die. Trunks that are completely split down the middle are very dangerous and difficult to brace adequately. Trees with such a severe defect should be addressed and/or removed by a professional tree-care service or arborist.

Trees That Are Leaning or Have Sprung Roots

Leaning Tree

Cracks can form from frost, frequent high winds (especially when preceded by rot), lightning strikes and substantial decay. This kind of structural defect in the trunk, or main stem of the tree, can cause the tree or parts of it to fail.

Sometimes cracks caused by frost can heal, but in general, a crack is a sign of decay, and the larger the wound, the more likely it is that the tree will die. Trunks with a split down the middle are dangerous and difficult to brace. Trees with such a severe defect should be examined and possibly removed by a professional tree-care service or arborist.

Multiple Trunks

Because a tree has multiple trunks, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a hazard. Trees with split or multiple trunks are weaker at the split than single trunk trees. It’s often the trees with more than one trunk that get split down the middle in a wind storm. After a storm, look for cracks or breaks where the trunks come together.

Trees Growing in a Construction Zone

Construction can cause stress to trees and their roots, especially shallow feeder roots. Disruptions to the soil when putting in a new driveway, plumbing or utility lines may affect trees.

Heavy equipment can scrape tree bark which may lead to disease or bug infestation. Vehicles and foot traffic compact the soil, depriving roots of oxygen. If roots are damaged, it may starve or destabilize the tree. Try to protect your trees from construction by installing a temporary fence. Keep a close eye on your trees during and after construction.

Get Help With Your Hazardous Trees

Winter storms in Portland are inevitable, but a dangerous situation isn’t. If you have a tree with one or more of these types of hazards, contact Inexpensive Tree Care right away. We will be glad to inspect your tree and help you with removal process.

 

Updated November 17, 2016.

Inexpensive Tree Care
Inexpensive Tree Care
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