Having trees on your property can bring many benefits; they can provide beauty, shade, fruit, and a habitat for birds and wildlife.  However, large, old trees can also come with risks, particularly if they are growing very near to your home, or if their branches overhang your neighbour's property.  As a tree owner, it's your responsibility to keep your trees in good order so that they don't pose a threat to people or property. 

But how do you know when a tree is no longer viable and should be removed?  Read on to find out more.

Routine inspection

Make it a part of your home maintenance routine to inspect your trees at least twice a year, in the autumn when the branches are free of leaves and clearly visible and in the spring when the winter storm season has finished.

Straight up

Find a place where you can see the whole tree.  Look carefully to see if the tree is leaning.  Some trees have a natural lean, but if one of your previously straight trees begins to tilt, you should call out your local tree service company to have a look at it. 

When a tree begins to lean, it's often a sign that it's dying and could fall down.  Don't just let nature take its course and risk damage to your property or your neighbour's!  If it's time for tree removal, a professional tree service firm will be able to do the job for you under controlled, safe conditions.

Root cause

Even if all looks fine above ground, there could still be problems with the tree's roots that aren't immediately obvious.  The roots are what give the tree its structural support.  If they are diseased or damaged, the support is weakened, and the tree may become unstable. 

Inspect any visible roots around the base of the tree.  Fungal growths, obvious rot, and piles of "sawdust" left by wood-eating insects could all be signs of trouble.  Likewise, if the soil around the base of the tree appears to have fallen in between the roots, this can indicate problems below ground.

Trunk call

Finally, have a good look at the tree's trunk.  Warning signs to look out for include large cracks or splits in the trunk, damaged or missing areas of bark, and obvious insect activity.  Any or all of these signs could be indicative of disease, rot or infestation, and that could mean it's the end of the line for the tree.

Above all

The final part of the tree to look at is the canopy.  Canopy inspection is best carried out by a certified tree services company as this job often requires working at height in order to check the branches for signs of rot or disease.  A professional arborist will have the right safety equipment and training to carry out this task.  However, you can still look up at your tree's canopy from the safety from the ground and pick out any branches whose leaves are dead, or those that are clearly storm-damaged.

Call in the professionals

If you think one of your trees is diseased or you can clearly see signs of damage, always seek the advice of an experienced tree services firm.  If necessary, they will remove problem branches or take down the tree in its entirety as well as providing you with advice on the future care and management of other trees on your property.