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Evaluate Trees’ Health with These Four Easy Steps

Posted: April 3, 2014

(Kent, OH)-- Trees offer shade on the hottest of days, structures to hang tire swings from, and provide beauty to landscapes. Yet when that favorite tree falls ill, it goes from being an asset to a liability.

Mountain Paper Birch 2_jpgYet, identifying a sick tree is easy, says R.J. Laverne, urban forester for The Davey Tree Expert Company.  He suggests a simple visual inspection to help homeowners determine the right time to replace a sick tree.

“Visually inspecting your tree is a four-part assessment, starting from the ground up,” says Laverne. “If you see a problem at the base, chances are the tree has more significant problems at the top.”

Laverne’s four-part, seasonal inspection is a simple way to catch sick trees before they become a danger.  

Step 1: Bottoms up! Take notice to what is happening at the base of the tree, says Laverne. “Pay attention to the tree’s roots, looking for soft spots or decay.”

Step 2: Look at the tree’s collar. The collar is where the trunk and roots meet at the soil surface. Laverne says to pull back the grass or ground-cover to check for decay. If bark is missing, falling off, or broken, or if there are cracks in the trunk, it’s a sign of developing decay.

Step 3: Examine the trunk. Look for deep, large cracks in the trunk. These indicate structural weakness in the tree and need careful evaluation. Trunk swelling, or an overgrowth of one area of the bark, also signifies advanced decay. A certified arborist can determine the extent of decay by using a probe.

Step 4: Look up. Pay close attention to the crown, or top of the tree. From the ground, Laverne says to look out for broken or hanging branches, limbs with missing bark, and bare branches with no new leaf or bud growth.

After performing this four-part assessment, if a tree is indeed showing symptoms of decline beyond normal seasonal changes, the next step is to determine its potential hazard. An expert, such as a certified arborist from the local Davey Tree Expert Company, can assess the tree using proper tools and determine if the tree can be treated or if it is best to replace it.

Remember, taking action now will not only keep the tree and area around it safe, but it also will decrease your costs because it is much more cost effective to treat a tree now than to remove it later.

The Davey Tree Expert Company, with U.S. and Canadian operations in more than 47 states and five provinces, provides a variety of tree care, grounds maintenance and consulting services for the residential, utility, commercial, and government markets. Founded in 1880, Davey has been employee-owned for 35 years and has more than 7,300 employees who provide Proven Solutions for a Growing World. For more information, visit www.davey.com.

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