5 Vital Tips for Telling if a Tree Should be Cut Down

Trees play an important role in creating an attractive, functional residential landscape. Whether it’s a voluminous dogwood or small witch hazel, they’ll inject new colors into the landscape, thereby improving your home’s curb appeal. The right trees grown in the right places also provide shade to keep your home cooler during summer. Some trees, however, may pose a risk of property injury and personal injury. If you discover any of the following signs in your landscape’s trees, you should consider removing them.

#1) Fungal Disease

Trees are susceptible to a plethora of fungal diseases. Since 2012, for instance, the fungal disease laurel wilt has killed tens of thousands of avocado trees in Florida, disrupting the region’s avocado market and forcing many farmers to close their business or grow different crops. Researchers say that ambrosia beetles are transmitting the disease to Avocado trees. And while rates of infection have decreased, new avocado trees in Florida are still catching laurel wilt. Laurel wilt can affect other type of trees as well, so inspect your trees for symptoms of this fungal disease, including areas of missing bark and wilted limbs.

#2) Pests

Pests pose two major problems for trees: First, they can transmit diseases, such as the aforementioned case of laurel wilt in avocado trees. Second, some pests bore cavities in trees, either for food or to create nests. In both cases, trees become weaker and less stable, increasing the chance of them falling.

Moths, beetles, weevils caterpillars and budworms are all common tree pests. Contrary to popular belief, termites don’t infest live trees. The only time when termites will seek refuge in a tree is when there’s decayed cellulose present. If you discover termites infesting one of your trees, it’s probably dead or dying, in which case you should cut it down.

#3) Dead Branches

Dead branches are a telltale sign that a tree is dead or dying. When ignored, the decaying branches will buckle under their own weight, snapping away from the tree and falling to the ground below. Assuming the tree is far away from your home, this shouldn’t cause any problems. If the tree overhangs your home, however, fallen branches could puncture holes in the roof, knock off shingles and cause other damage.

You should also consider removing dead or dying trees near your driveway. According to The New York Times, homeowners’ insurance typically doesn’t cover to damage to vehicles. If a decaying branch falls on your car and you don’t have comprehensive auto insurance, you may be forced to pay out of pocket for the repairs.

#4) Clogged Gutters

Even if a tree is alive and healthy, it may still prove problematic. Deciduous trees, such as ash, beech, cherry and elm, shed their leaves in fall. If one of the trees overhangs your roof, you may have trouble keeping your gutters clean. The leaves will accumulate inside the gutters and downspouts, restricting or preventing the flow of water.

#5) Leaning

Pay attention to the direction in which your trees lean. You don’t have to cut down a tree just because it leans. Trees lean for a variety of reasons, not all of which are a concern. A tree may naturally grow towards the side that receives the most light, for example. As long as the angle isn’t too high, it shouldn’t pose a risk to the home or surrounding property.

On the other hand, if a tree that was once perfectly flat and upright suddenly leans after a major storm, it’s likely to fall. Storms can disrupt the soil, making tree roots loose and less stable.

You can avoid many of these problems by maintaining the trees in your landscape. Make sure they receive adequate water and aren’t being attacked by pests or disease.

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