7 Signs You're Harboring a Hazardous Tree

Florida is home to a large variety of native trees, from the Florida dogwood to the Florida maple. Nothing will improve the look and feel of your property more than a few beautifully cared-for trees.

The problem is that, without proper maintenance, any tree can become a hazard. We consider hazardous trees any trees (or individual limbs) that may fall, injuring bystanders or damaging property. 

How can you tell if you're harboring hazardous trees in your Florida yard? Catching the signs early will allow you to hire professional arborists to perform all the tree trimming, maintenance, and removal you need. 

Read on to learn 7 distinct signs that you are harboring a hazardous tree. That way, you can take care of the problem before your tree causes damage.

1. Hanging or Broken Limbs

This is often one of the easiest signs to catch, although you would be surprised at how many hanging or broken limbs hide away in the canopy. If you notice that a limb appears to be hanging fully or partially, take a closer look. Inspect any cracks you can see near the breaking point to determine how severe the damage is.

Ultimately, you should remove any hanging or broken limbs even if the cracks are not deep. With time, they are more likely to break away and fall. 

2. Disease

There are a number of diseases that can affect Florida trees. If one or a handful of branches on your tree is diseased, it is important that a professional arborist come and remove the affected areas. Many tree diseases can spread and if left to fester, the disease can compromise your entire tree.

Each disease presents itself in a different way. For example, needle rust on conifer trees will create a white, papery substance that appears to "drip" from the tree's needles. Fusiform rust, on the other hand, will cause yellow pustules to form on the trunk or branches of pine trees. 

Because these diseases vary, your best bet is to keep an eye out for any unusual growths. If you spot one, do an internet search or call an arborist to find out what it is and how to manage it. 

3. Dead Limbs

Dead limbs pose a serious threat, in part because you may not notice them at all--until they fall. Limbs that decay from the inside often appear normal and remain intact for long periods of time.

There are two major concerns when it comes to dead limbs.

The first is that the limbs can fall at any time, regardless of weather patterns or other aggravating factors. The second is that while the limb is still intact, the decay could spread to other areas of the tree, including the trunk, itself.

4. Tree Cavities

Tree cavities are large, naturally formed holes in the trunk of your tree. These holes often form in reaction to a wound that the tree is attempting to cut off from the rest of the trunk, which may be harmless. However, tree cavities also form in reaction to harmful fungi, indicating further internal decay.

If the trunk of your tree is slowly becoming hollow, the entire tree will eventually fall. Have an arborist inspect any tree cavities to determine how severe they are and whether or not the tree needs to be removed.

5. Trunk Leaning

Besides hanging or broken limbs, a leaning trunk is one of the most obvious indications that your tree is a hazard. As the canopy continues to grow, the weight on the top of your tree increases. This is true of all trees, but when the tree is growing at an odd angle, there is too much pressure on one side of the trunk and roots.

No matter the size or age, a leaning tree should be removed. Tall leaning trees pose the greatest threat, but there's no real point in allowing a leaning sapling to continue growing into something hazardous.

6. Root Damage

Root damage can occur for a number of reasons and may take years to manifest. The problem is that your tree's rots operate as your tree's life force, and damaged roots won't support a tree for long. 

There are a few major signs of root damage. The first is an increase in wilting or dead branches as well as weak or small amounts of growth over a season. The second is the proliferation of fungus along the root bed, which could indicate root rot caused by an oversaturation of the dirt.

7. Poor Structure

As organic beings, we'd like to believe that trees know how to grow into the sizes and shapes that are most beneficial to them. However, this is not always the case. Oftentimes, trees with an unusual structure are interesting to look at but present a large hazard.

If we don't prune and maintain trees each year, they can grow a large crown that will overburden the trunk. This may occur when several branches grow perpendicular to one another or cross paths. It can also occur when there are a few large branches that are not proportional to the rest of the crown.

Recognizing poor structure in a tree isn't easy because oftentimes, a tree that isn't growing well looks normal. An annual inspection will prevent any poor or out-of-control growth that could cause your tree to fall in the future.

GreenTopps Is Here to Help You Deal with Your Hazardous Tree

Do you think you may have a hazardous tree in your yard? Are you uncertain of what, exactly, you should look for to recognize a hazardous tree? 

GreenTopps is a Certified Arborist organization and a member of the International Society of Arboriculture. Our arborists have years of experience with Florida trees and we're here to help you tackle any hazardous trees you find in your yard. Contact us and we'll get to work right away.

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