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When Should I Remove a Tree?

When deciding whether to remove a tree, we look at several different risk factors. Generally, if a tree two or more of the following risk factors, or one that is extreme, we recommend removing the tree.

Weight Distribution

Most of the time, a tree will collapse in the direction it is weighted. If a tree is leaning significantly or has all of its growth on one side, this puts uneven stress on the root system, and the tree stands a chance of uprooting. If there are valuable "targets" in the direction of the weight such as a house, power lines or a trafficked area, this may be reason enough to remove the tree.

Trunk Damage

Regardless of whether a tree's canopy appears healthy, trunk damage can render a tree structurally unstable. If you can see a cavity or outward signs of decay any place on the trunk (especially at the base), then the tree's stability may be in a steady decline. Once the decay process has started, it is irreversible.

Ground Conditions

There are several ground conditions that decrease the stability of a tree, regardless of its health. The first is the slope of the ground - A steep slope provides a less stable foundationfor a tree than flat ground. Another risky position for a tree is right along a creek or a river bed. In this case, the dirt underneath the tree is being constantly eroded away and the tree will eventually collapse. A third hazardous location is one where water collects and keeps the ground wet. Less firm soil means less "grip" for the roots. This is why many trees uproot in heavy rainstorms - the combination of a soggy ground and high winds is enough to bring down even the most healthy, well-established tree.

Multiple Dead Limbs

When a tree has several large dead limbs (roughly 25% or more of the total canopy), this is a sign of a serious circulatory problem. If you look closer, you will probably notice trunk decay or a disturbance of the root system. The tree is likely in a decline toward death. If the dead branches are over a structure or play area, either the branches or the tree should be removed.

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