Summer’s (almost) officially here, and we’re all drawn outdoors taking advantage of the longer daylight hours and the great weather! With the summer season comes warmer temps, abundant sunshine, and some pretty intense storms. In fact, conditions present during this time of year can become the perfect recipe for severe weather and thunderstorms. In weather like this, your beautiful trees can become volatile enemies causing substantial damage to your personal property or injuring loved ones with the snap of a branch.
The aftermath of severe weather in Central Ohio can be devastating, and a failing tree can be deadly. As a homeowner and property owner, you’re responsible for the maintenance of the trees in your yard. It’s important that you pay attention to the condition of your trees so that you can intervene if there is potential danger; keeping them secure and your family safe.
A tree is hazardous if there’s a possibility for it to fail and hit a “target” such as a person, structure, or house. It’s likely that all of the trees in your landscape have a target to hit, so be sure to look closely at them to identify warning signs. A tree can fail for many reasons at any time of year— however, we are focusing on what you can do now during the summer months to identify unstable trees in your yard. So if a strong storm hits, your yard will be safe from falling branches. Read on to learn our quick tips for identifying hazardous trees this summer!
The way that the branches attach to a tree trunk can clue you in on the state of its stability. For example, if your tree has large branches and a tight V-shaped fork where the branches attach, the attachment could be weak; pruning can help lighten the load. If the angle is wide and U-shaped, the attachment is likely secure with no potential threat for the branch failing. If the branch is struck by lightning; however, its stability may be compromised. Storm damage can make a strong, stable tree a dangerous one. Knowing the tree’s history can further help you diagnose weak branch attachments. Has your tree been topped in the past? Topped trees are notorious for growing back at risk branch attachments— be sure to pay extra close attention to the canopy of the tree.
Dead or Decaying Wood
Dead trees and branches are unpredictable and can give way at any time. Dead branches are usually the first to fall; if you notice any unstable branches remove them promptly. High winds brought on by summer storms can quickly wipe out a dead branch that is dry and brittle. Dead tree branches cannot flex and bend in the wind like a living tree branch. If you find dead branches that have already broken off (“hangers” or “window makers”) have them removed immediately— they are especially dangerous!
The good news is that dead branches are easy to identify this time of year. If your trees are not robust with foliage, check for individual branches with no leaves or leaves that are brown and brittle— these are signs of dead wood. If the branch is low and you can prune it yourself, do so right away. If it’s a larger branch, call in a certified arborist to cut it down safely.
Did you know that the presence of mushrooms at the base of your tree is a sign of decay? Not always, but it could be an indication. If you find mushrooms growing at the base under the canopy of the tree, it could be a sign that the roots are decaying. Mushrooms typically grow on dead wood or rotting wood so this would be another indication that a part of the tree is dead. A tree that is dying or decaying is not only ugly; it is potentially dangerous.
After the Storm
If you prepare your trees for severe weather by getting rid of branches capable of falling or breaking off and hitting a target, your yard will be safe all summer long. Remove branches with weak attachments and those that are dead or decaying. Call a certified arborist to evaluate any potential problems you’ve pinpointed to get their professional opinion.
After a storm rolls through, it’s a good idea to scan your trees to make sure they didn’t acquired any damage from a lightning strike or the intense winds. Be proactive and mitigate hazardous trees in your yard before they have the opportunity to be destructive in the next summer storm!