The Hidden Danger of a Damaged Tree: How to Spot Warning Signs and Prevent Disasters

While some trees can thrive for over 50 years, others may have a more limited lifespan. And that’s especially true if you’re dealing with a damaged tree. Whether a storm or construction project has caused the damage, you’ll need to address it quickly to avoid a dangerous situation.

You can prevent injuries and property damage with an attentive eye. Read on to learn how to spot the warning signs of a damaged tree – and what to do next!

Look for Decaying Wood

If you notice that the wood on your tree doesn’t look healthy, you may have an unhealthy or damaged tree on your hands. Unhealthy wood may be discolored or it may crumble from the tree trunk.

Decayed wood will feel brittle and it won’t let your tree move and sway naturally during storms. This can lead to branches falling more easily.

Decayed wood might not produce leaves during the spring, either. And that could mean that your tree has diseased branches or a decaying trunk.

You may also see mushrooms or cankers growing from the tree. Or the tree itself may smell musty. In the same vein, you may notice that pests have created holes or left bite marks in the trunk.

Weak branches can be another sign that it’s time that you have decayed wood -and it’s time to call a tree service. Sometimes interior decay can be masked by healthy bark that grows on top of it. If you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to contact an arborist for an expert opinion.

Sometimes tree trimming can be enough to salvage a tree. A reputable tree service will know to cut broken branches until they reach a branch that is alive.

Don’t Ignore Cracked Bark

If you see splintered bark that exposes wood beneath it, it’s time to take action. Cracked bark is a bad sign and could indicate that your tree is decaying from within.

The bark is meant to protect your tree from pests and disease. But if it’s compromised, it can’t work in that way. Instead, your tree will be susceptible to more wounds and problems that won’t make it stable.

Look for bark that has lots of cracks concentrated in one area. Or look for cracked bark that is deep enough to let the wood beneath it emerge.

It’s always smart to have a trained arborist look at your tree to assess its damage. They’ll be able to offer tree trimming or other services that can nurse a tree back to health.

Watch for a Misshaped Tree

Normally, a tree’s crown looks balanced and pleasing. But a problematic tree may not look this way. That’s why it’s wise to assess the shape of your tree’s crown.

Sometimes too much pruning can contribute to a strange crown shape. As a result, branches may not grow back evenly for equal weight distribution.

Or sometimes a tree might not get enough sunlight to promote even growth. This can lead to some longer, heavier branches on one side with decaying branches on the other.

The major issue with this is that an uneven crown shape could cause the tree to fall. That’s why you’ll want to consult with an arborist to figure out the best path forward for your tree’s health.

Watch for Leaning

You may have a tree in your yard that leans one way or another. This lean may be the result of ongoing punishment from storms over the years. And it’s not a physical peculiarity to ignore.

A leaning tree might mean that the roots are coming up because the soil is too damp. Soil that is too saturated can lead to root rot. Soil that smells musty around your roots can indicate this problem.

A tree could be leaning due to soil erosion, or soil that simply lacks the nutrients to keep roots nourished. Or it could mean that the roots are not growing properly.

This can be the result of construction projects that have disrupted the root systems beneath the ground. Without a robust root system, your tree may not get enough oxygen, which impacts the tree’s health and structural integrity.

Ultimately, these factors can cause a leaning tree, and that leaning tree could fall. And if you have a garage or other part of your property beneath it, that could be disastrous. Worse yet, a learning tree could take down powerlines, causing a dangerous situation for anyone nearby.

Tree removal may be your best option with a leaning tree. Certified arborists will know how to safely remove a tree to prevent problems down the road.

Consider Recent Weather

If you’re wondering about a tree’s health, reflect on your recent weather patterns. Did you just have a violent summer storm system come through town? Strong winds and lightning can wreak havoc on trees.

Even if your tree looks okay, it may have sustained storm damage. And sometimes you’ll see the impact a few weeks after a storm.

Look for markings or changes to the soil around the trunk of the tree. This could suggest there is root damage beneath the surface. Heavy winds may have moved enough soil to make roots less secure.

Likewise, if a storm causes a tree to lose limbs, that can affect the tree’s stability as well as its photosynthesis processing. You’ll want to avoid trimming any new sprouts to give them ample time to grow.

Sometimes trees cannot be salvaged when there’s been enough interior decay. Even efforts to brace the tree won’t be able to repair the damage. It may be best to remove the tree.

Take Care of a Damaged Tree

A damaged tree can increase the risk of injuries to people and properties. Watch for bark, branches, or roots that show signs of decay. And check your tree’s canopy and its direction of growth to make sure everything is looking healthy.

At Green Pine Tree Service, our certified arborists offer expertise on tree matters to the Dallas Fort Worth area. We can help with anything from identifying tree health issues to tree cutting. Contact us today to learn more!