Becoming Aware: Tree Risk Assessments around the Home

News from Economic Development, Planning and Tourism, Posted on Fri, 07/30/2010 - 12:34pm

By: Kabel Kellogg, CCE Community Educator

As you look outside your home take notice to all that nature has to offer, the lush lawn, the flowering shrubs, and the tall trees. Now ask yourself, “would the lawn be as nice if I never mowed it?”, and “would the shrubs flower as well if I never pruned them?” The answer would be no. So why is so little thought given to the health and welfare of the trees around us?

Trees may not need as much attention and care as the lawn, but the lawn could not crush your home in a matter of seconds if it decides to fail. Trees grow tall and beautiful towering over our homes keeping us cool in the summer and protected from the elements in the winter, but many people forget that trees are living organisms much like ourselves and like most people trees need a check up every once and awhile.

Trees have several categories of defects to be aware of including decayed wood, cracks, weak branch unions, root problems, cankers, and poor tree architecture. Defects are visible signs that a tree has a potential to fail. Tree failure can be predicted because the defects show us where the tree is likely to fail. Some trees such as Silver Maple have a higher likelihood to fail than many other trees because of the fast growing nature of the tree (canopy out grows the root system) and the weak branching unions caused by the included bark within the narrow crotches of the tree.

There are many ways for trees to fail. Ice can overload branches in the winter causing them to break under the weight. High winds can topple trees with weak or restricted root growth (as seen lately). A cracked tree can simply fail and collapse under its own weight. Trees are very important factors of everyday life and should be taken care of and evaluated on a regular basis, especially when located near a home, road, or general area where people and animals may be present.

In conclusion trees located near and around public areas need to be assessed on a routine basis to prevent unnecessary damage to property and loss of life. If you have concerns about a tree near your home or neighborhood, contact a local arborist using the local phone book or by going to A certified arborist can assess the tree and determine if the tree is safe, needs maintenance, or needs to be removed. Being aware today can save your home tomorrow.

If you would like more information on general horticulture issues contact your counties Cooperative Extension Office, in Cattaraugus County 716.699.2377 ext 125, in Allegany County 585.268.7644 ext 12.