Trees can cause a lot of damage depending on how and when they fall down. Between the weight, the strength of the wood, and the momentum of the fall, a tree can easily crash through a roof and hurt the people living inside. Falling trees can also smash through power lines, destroy cars, and create road hazards.
However, trees don’t just fall at random. When a tree is big enough to cause serious damage, it’s also sturdy enough to take a serious pounding. It should be able to stand up against strong winds, heavy snowfall, freezing rain, and other natural hazards short of a tornado or a hurricane. A large enough tree can even survive a car run into it at full speed.
The hazard happens when a tree loses its strength thanks to disease and death. Dead and dying trees can look very similar to living ones, but their structure weakens thanks to things like termites and fungus and it doesn’t take nearly as much to make them fall over. That’s why it’s important to inspect the trees on your property regularly and look for signs of trouble.
Individual branches can die even while the tree itself remains healthy. A big enough branch can still do plenty of damage when it falls, especially if someone is standing beneath it, so be sure that every branch on your trees is properly filling out with leaves or needles.
When two tree branches meet and rub together, it creates a weak point in both limbs. Make sure you prune at least one of them as soon as you spot them.
Trees usually grow vertically, but they can grow at a slant because of a sloped hill, regular high winds, and other factors. A tree that grows at an angle is fine so long as it keeps that angle, but if a tree starts leaning suddenly or leans more and more every year then that’s something to worry about. It could indicate root decay or soil erosion, and either way, the tree could fall if you don’t do something about it.
Cracks are expected in bark but a deep crack can be a problem. Deep cracks usually have a cause, like a disease, and they also represent a structural weakness that could cause the tree to fall.
Without sturdy roots, a tree is guaranteed to fall. Aside from leaning, other signs of root decay include thick fungus growth and thin leaf coverage. You should watch for these signs closely after any recent construction work that could have damaged the roots since that helps decay set in.
Trees are alive, and when they die they become dangerous accidents waiting to happen. Because of this, you should always take care of the trees on your property and inspect them at least once per year for dead branches and signs of disease. If you see something strange, don’t be afraid to call in an arborist who can give you a professional diagnosis and then prune or remove the tree if needed.