When Should a Tree be Removed?
When a tree becomes problematic, deciding when to remove it can be difficult. Many factors, such as the cost of tree removal and, in some cases, emotional attachments to the tree, can play a role. Dying trees in natural areas that do not pose a threat to property or people can be left to die on their own without human intervention. Various species of woodpeckers and other wildlife use dead trees to find food and a place to nest. Hazardous trees, on the other hand, with structural flaws that could cause injury to people or property damage, require immediate attention. They should be inspected by a professional arborist. This is especially true of ash trees that have succumbed to the emerald ash borer. Due to borer feeding damage, their wood becomes extremely brittle, and limb breakage is a major concern. Even for experienced tree professionals, removing these trees can be difficult. In this case, we recommend contacting a professional as soon as possible to have the dead ash trees removed.
The majority of tree pruning and removal jobs are too dangerous for the average do-it-yourselfer to attempt. Employ the services of a professional. The state of Maryland requires a professional to have a “Tree Expert” license. Look for licensed tree care professionals on the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ website. In addition, many tree service companies employ “certified arborists.” This is a well-respected certification in the tree-care industry. Certified arborists are people who have passed a comprehensive exam developed by some of the country’s leading tree experts. The International Society of Arboriculture manages the certification program (ISA). Certified arborists are experts in all aspects of tree care and should be consulted when assessing a tree’s health and managing insects and diseases.
Is it a sought-after species?
Black locust, Siberian elm, box elder, mulberry, poplars, Bradford pear, Norway maple, tree of heaven, mimosa, empress tree, and willows are all undesirable trees. Weak wood prone to frequent breakage, always dropping large amounts of debris, shallow roots that damage lawns and pavement, often infested with diseases or insects specific to the tree species, or being an invasive species due to prolific reseeding in the landscape are all characteristics that make some trees “undesirable.”
Is the tree in good health?
If 50% of the tree is damaged, it should most likely be removed. A declining tree can live for many years, but its growth and appearance will always be restricted or abnormal. Herbicide-damaged trees frequently have misshapen leaves, but they can usually recover.
Is there any damage to the trunk?
Internal decay is indicated by vertical cracks, seams, dead branch stubs, and large, older wounds. When the main trunk of a tree is severely damaged, it is often necessary to remove it. If the damaged area is less than 25% of the trunk’s circumference, the wound should heal over time and no permanent injury should occur.
Is the tree hollow or solid?
Because a tree’s life support tissue, the xylem and phloem, is located on the trunk’s outer edges, many trees can live for years with a hollow trunk. The problem is that the tree’s trunk strength may be compromised, making it dangerous. If one-third of the interior of the tree is hollow or rotten, it should probably be removed, according to a rule of thumb.
Do you have any large dead branches?
Large trees with broken tops or large damaged limbs pose a threat to people and property. The tree will most likely survive if only about 25% of its branches are damaged. Branches that are crossed or rubbing should be removed. Narrow branch angles, particularly those of the main trunk, are prone to splitting and should be corrected. When the tree is young, this is the best time to do it. If a narrow crotch is too difficult to remove, the two co-dominant leaders can be cabled to relieve strain and prevent breakage. An arborist is the person who performs this procedure.
Are all of the tree’s dead branches on one side?
If this is the case, the tree will be lopsided and possibly dangerous. The presence of all dead branches on one side of a tree can indicate root or trunk damage on that side. An arborist should be consulted about such trees.
Are there any sprouts or epicormic shoots (small branches growing from the trunk) coming from the tree’s base?
These sprouts are a tree’s response to extreme stress, indicating that something is wrong with it. This is very common in trees that have recently been injured by new home construction, over-exposure to the sun after forest thinning, or soil compaction. An arborist should be consulted about such trees. These are signs that something is wrong with the tree.
Is there any trunk rot or a large fungus near the tree’s base?
Although not all mushrooms growing beneath trees are linked to root diseases, fungi growing on the tree can indicate internal rot and should be evaluated by an arborist.
Is there any digging near the tree that has caused root damage?
If 50% of the root system is damaged, it should most likely be removed.
Is there a slant to the tree?
Trees that are leaning pose a greater risk than those that are growing vertically. A sudden lean indicates root breakage or weakening, and the tree should be removed as soon as possible. A tree that is leaning more than 15% from vertical should probably be removed.
Is the tree in the path of power lines?
Trees planted near power lines should not grow taller than 25 feet. It will be necessary to thin out a tree that is growing into power lines. Electricity can arc up to ten feet to wet tree foliage and ground out during wet weather, causing a power outage or property damage. It is never a good idea for a homeowner to remove tree limbs that are close to power lines. The cost of an accidental power line contact or a grounding arc of lethal electrical current striking a ladder, pruning tool, or a person will be catastrophic. For these dangerous jobs, always hire a professional.
What is the tree’s background?
Years later, some previous pruning jobs can cause issues. Breakage of the regrowth is a result of the old, outdated practice of “topping” trees. Another factor that contributes to the gradual decline of trees is a change in soil level over the root system. The tree will most likely die if three inches or more of soil has been piled over its root system. Many trees can be saved if caught early, before stress symptoms appear.
What kind of environment does the tree inhabit?
The environment is another important factor in a tree’s potential need for removal. Shallow root systems are common in trees growing on ledges or near bodies of water. After new construction, the removal of nearby trees is a common issue. Trees that are exposed to sunlight for an extended period of time are severely stressed. Trees that are saved from being cut down during construction often die 3-5 years later. After being grown in the forest, they succumb to soil compaction, grade changes, and the sudden exposure to full sun.
How much room is there for trees to grow?
Because trees in the forest grow close together, it’s fine to plant shade trees in groves that mimic nature. They will grow together in such places, as they do in nature, to form a large mass. When it comes to your home, it is preferable to avoid having trees that hang over the roof. Large trees should be kept at least 20 feet away from your home. Small trees, such as dogwoods, can, on the other hand, be planted as close as 6 feet from the house.
Finally, there are some other factors to consider when deciding whether or not to remove a tree:
- Are there any other trees nearby that will benefit from the removal of the tree?
- Is the tree’s location such that it obstructs traffic flow, stoplights, or other sight lines?
- Is there any historical or sentimental significance to the tree? When a tree has historical or sentimental value, it is justified to spend more money to save it. If a tree is losing large branches, however, it is most likely time to replace it.
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