August 6

13 Signs a Tree is Going to Fall

Could a trouble tree end up costing you thousands of dollars in property damage — or worse, injuring a loved one?

When you aren’t paying attention to your trees, you’re likely to miss the most common warning signs that your tree will fall.

Should a trouble tree go unnoticed for too long, it could end up falling on your house. If it were to fall, you’d be on the hook for the repairs and any hospital bills should someone get injured.

A young mom was out for a morning stroll in Central Park — pushing two children in a double stroller and a baby strapped to her chest — when a giant elm tree came crashing down on them. It broke her neck and fractured her son's skull. 

You don't want to let this happen to you or your family. Keep reading to learn 13 warning signs to watch for — so you can spot trees before they fall. And you'll know when to give us a call should a trouble tree need removal.

13 Signs a Tree is Going to Fall

Warning Sign #1: Your Tree Has Dead Branches

When a tree has dead branches, it might have root rot. Root rot renders the tree unable to nourish its branches and leaves. 

Then the tree sheds its branches in an attempt to save itself — the fewer branches, the fewer nutrients needed. 

Dead and falling branches are dangerous. All it takes is one strong gust of wind, and those dead tree branches can come down right on top of your house — or worse injure someone. 

Dead tree branches can cause a lot of trouble when they fall — and there is no way to predict when that will happen. It might come down during the next storm, or it could happen on a calm, sunny day.

Warning Sign #2: There Are Hollow Spots in the Trunk

Trees get cavities— but you can't very well take them to the dentist for a filling. Tree cavities are caused by decay within the tree and are usually a result of improper pruning.

Just like your teeth, as the cavity grows in size and the trunk of the tree weakens. At some point, it won't be able to support itself, so when strong winds come through, the branch or possibly the whole tree comes down.

But, if you notice good, solid wood around the hollow cavity, though, there is hope! In this case, the tree is not likely to break off or tip over. 

It’s best to consult a tree professional to make sure the cavities in your tree are safe.

Warning Sign #3: The Roots Are Raising Up

Roots can rot. And trees with rotten roots may very well be on their way toward tipping over. It's hard to detect this, though, because you cannot see roots— they are the soil. 

You can look for signs in dead branches, falling leaves, or mushrooms growing around the base. A fungus is often the best indicator of rotten roots.  

If you find mushrooms around the base of your tree, you need to consult a Certified Arborist. They will help come up with the best plan of action for treating your tree.

Warning Sign #4: Leaves Are Missing Close to the Trunk

Leaves should not fall on the inside first. A healthy tree's leaves always fall from the outside in. If you notice leaves missing closest to the tree's trunk, this tree may be in danger of falling. 

Trees get their nutrients and water from their root zone. When you see leaves falling from the inside, it means that something has compromised the root zone. 

Nutrients and water are what keeps a tree healthy, so without those ingredients, you are at risk — strong winds can cause the tree to topple over.

Warning Sign #5: The Trunk Has Big Cracks or Bark That’s Missing

Cankers are cracks or missing patches of bark on a tree. These typically appear when a tree is dying — and its best to have it examined by an Arborist. 

Deep cracks in the bark make the trunk considerably weaker. The weaker the trunk, the harder it is for the tree to remain stable — making it a hazard. 

 Unlike the other signs we've discussed, even if the wood around the canker looks solid, it still needs evaluation. You don't want to wait because cankers are undoubtedly a bad sign and should be dealt with swiftly.

Warning Sign #6: Branches Are Growing in a Tight V-Shape

On a healthy tree, you will notice that it branches off in a U-shape. This allows enough room for the branches to grow. So if you see branches growing close together— in a V-shape— this could indicate a disaster on the horizon. 

During late fall or early winter, trees are well into their hibernation periods. The trees have lost their leaves, so this is the best time to check out how the branches have been growing. 

Trees such as elms, maples, and willows tend to break when there is a weak fork. You want to keep an eye on this to prevent any damage on your property from falling limbs.

Warning Sign #7: The Trunk of the Tree is Leaning

Is your tree leaning at a 15 degree — or more — angle? It could be from wind or root damage. But no matter which one caused the lean, the tree most likely needs to be removed. 

On the other hand, though, if the tree tilts naturally — it grew at an angle — it may not be as dangerous. 

Something else to consider with leaning trees is the direction in which it leans. Trees that tilt toward the east are more likely to fall because winds blow from the west.

Warning Sign #8: Exposed Roots

If you see exposed roots around a tree, this is another concern. Topsoil covers roots protecting them from damage caused by the elements and foot traffic. 

Exposed tree roots are vulnerable to damage by landscaping equipment — such as getting clipped by lawnmowers or string trimmers. Cutting tree roots like this will cause the tree to decay — and later fall. 

As risky as it is for the tree, it's a hazard for everyone else too. Imagine kids and adults tripping over the roots. Some may experience serious injuries, depending on what surrounds the tree.

Warning Sign #9: There Are Soft Spots on the Tree

Soft spots in the trunk or limbs are one sign that your tree may be in danger. Spots often go unnoticed in the tree trunk. Soft spots appear when it has fungi, an infestation, or a wound. These things place stress on the tree causing weak spots. 

It's important to note that you should always wash your hands after touching a diseased tree. This is an issue you want a professional working on —someone with the tools and skills to handle this situation.

Warning Sign #10: Your Tree Has Fungus Growing On It

Fungi enter a tree through wounded cavities. Once it's there, it starts reproducing using the fruiting bodies from the crack in the bark. 

Infected trees, unfortunately, fall soon after symptoms of a fungal infection start showing. This means it is imperative that you have it removed when you notice the signs of fungus. 

Some signs include yellow and browning leaves, slower tree growth, and armillaria root rot. You may even notice some branches dying or wilting before it topples over. But it’s likely the tree will need removing before it reaches that point.

Warning Sign #11: The Tree Was Struck By Lightning

Lightning can strike a tree and damage it internally, traveling through the layers underneath the bark — leaving it looking completely normal! It can take days or weeks for the tree to decline.

If it's struck on the outer layer, you will notice cracking down the trunk, blackened areas, or wilted leaves. 

No matter where the lightning hits the tree, other factors will determine its fate— its species, age, location, and health. And even if the lightning strike doesn't kill the tree, it will leave it open for pathogens and insects, weakening it over time.

Warning Sign #12: Your Tree is Infested With Carpenter Ants

Ants are a nuisance to everyone— even trees! They tend to nest in the cavities of trees and multiply. While carpenter ants don't cause the tree damage, they take advantage of weaker trees— like vultures seizing an opportunity. 

Then they chew tunnels throughout any damp and damaged wood, cutting passageways to form nests and colonize the tree. This prevents the tree from healing & promotes further rot. 

There are several steps you must take to rid your tree of an ant infestation. Before you begin, you will need to evaluate if the tree is worth saving or if it needs removal.

Warning Sign #13: Vines Are Taking Over Your Tree

Some people may like the look of vines growing up their trees. But when the vines cover the ground, they form a thick blanket over the root. Throw a bunch of leaves and rain in the mix, and you end up with a tree dying from fungal or bacterial diseases. 

The leaves trap moisture from the rain under the vines, allowing severe structural damage at the tree's base. Vines, unfortunately, also make it harder to spot damages — and they shade the tree from crucial sunlight.  

If you notice a tree on your property that is hosting vines, you may need help in killing the vines and preserving your tree.

Have Your Trouble Tree Removed

Do you have a suspicious-looking tree that you are worried may come toppling down on your home — or loved one? 

If you live in the Chattanooga area, Out on a Limb, LLC can help remove the trees that you don't need and don't want. We have years of experience in all types of tree work, including high-risk removal.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Give us a call, and we’ll take care of your trouble tree before it costs you lots of money — or injures you or your family.

Call or text now for a quote: (423) 933-6863. Or send us an email.

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