Tree s on sidewalk uprooted by storm

Know if you need tree removal before is too late

Should you do a tree removal, trimming or nothing?

You better read the signals your tree is giving you before a tragedy occurs

Any tree can become a hazard, but if a threat is not present, a tree removal isn’t the best course of action. Your trees add an average of 10 percent to your property’s value. They could add a cooling effect to your house helping you cut your air conditioner needs. A young healthy tree has so many more benefits for you and your neighborhood. But can you prevent your tree from turning into a liability? We will help you check and figure if your tree is a menace.

Caution: There is no replacement for hiring an expert. The goal of this article is to aide you into spotting signs not always visible to homeowners. But in no case substitutes the need for a professional tree service.

Can the tree hit a target?

No target equals no hazard. Consider a tree hazardous if a target can be hit when falling. A target can be a building, a vehicle or a person within the reach of a plunging tree or one of its parts. When there is no target present, is better to leave the tree intact, even if it has died years ago. If required cut only a few branches so you don’t abrupt the ecosystem of trees nearby. Sometimes these trees are protecting a healthy tree from wind or erosion.

Age is too an important point to contemplate, the older the tree the higher the risk. Take into consideration the environment. Where is its location? on rock ledges, near a body of water or does it have a shallow root system? All those factors increase the probability of failure.

How to inspect your trees

We are going to look at the tree from top to bottom reviewing its three main parts.

The crown

Crown form and vigor indicates health on trees. A hazardous tree will show these characteristics:

  • Dieback: when branches in the upper crown die from the top down. The stress provoked by extended periods of drought, insects or root disease creates dieback. Opportunistic pests, bugs and fungi invade stressed trees. You should do a tree removal if dieback is in advanced stages.
  • V-shape forks: extreme weather usually triggers a failure on these weak points. The trees more susceptible to break because of V-shaped forks are Oak, maple, willow and elm. Nevertheless, corrective pruning when trees are young can prevent many of these problems.
  • Lopsided crowns: often trees end up with lopsided crowns when they get surrounded by other trees. A response to their demand for sunlight.
  • Leaning: Most of the time, you need to remove trees with15 degrees of inclination from vertical. Trees that grew leaned are less of a hazard than those that leaned due to the wind or roots problems. An indicator of a risky lean problem is when uplifted soil shows opposite the lean.

When many of the listed characteristics are visible, the tree represents danger and you need a tree removal.


A tree crown with dieback
This tree is suffering from dieback on one side of its crown.

The trunk

One of the major causes of tree failure is when they get weakened by decay produced by fungi. Healthy trees bend and sways. But if they are decaying their tissues are unflexible and crack and break with ease.

The fungi weaken the wood, grow and reproduce. Soft mushroom soft and that deteriorate after a few weeks do not cause a threat to your tree. These are the most common characteristics of harmful fungi:

  • They are conks woody and perennial.
  • There are many structures of fungi. This indicates that the tree is in an advanced stage of decay.
  • Its location is on a bark opening.

Often there could be internal decay without signs. The cause of this decay is due to cracks, seams, butt swell, dead branch stubs and large, older cuts.

The decay fungi need an opening in tree bark to enter the tree such as wounds caused by lightning, fire, insects, birds and other animals. The wind can make branches rub each other and remove the bark. Avoid human activities such as carving initials in the bark.


Parasitic mushroom grows on a stem of tree
Parasitic mushroom grows on a stem of tree

Be aware of cankers

These diseases are perennial and aggressive that enlarge over time increasing the risks. Trees are more likely to break at a wound or canker when the wind is in same or in an opposite direction. Most trees fail during winds of 40 mph, but some on a still day.

Vertical cracks or seam along the trunk show internal defects. A hollow tree not always mean that the tree is hazardous. Vigorous trees can grow sound wood around the hollow compensating for the decay.

The roots

They are very important because they absorb water and essential elements and it anchors the tree to the ground.
Negligent construction increases the probability of failure when they damage the tree root system. If 50% of the roots are compromised, you need to to do a tree removal.
Roots damaged by decay or cutting make the tree susceptible to windthrow. Factors like soil depth and drainage cause uprooting.

Here are above ground clues of poor root conditions:

  • Thin crowns with dwarfed off-color yellowish leaves
  • Stunted growth
  • Soil compaction
  • Erosion
  • Construction activities
  • Soil fill
  • Root rot fungi

Not all the mushroom that grows under the trees state a root disease. Experience with fungi is useful during an inspection.

What should you do?

You should inspect every tree that is likely to have problems. To prevent accidents, you have to do these inspections periodic and thorough. At least once a year, but we recommend two (summer and winter).


To keep the tree in the landscape, on rare occasions, you can do pruning, cabling and bracing. But most often tree removal is the only solution to a hazardous tree.


Prevention is the best action, you should start a health program as soon as possible. If you want to prevent many problems in the future, always do a proper choice and placement of the trees. Homeowners often create hazards when they buy and plant a tree with no planning.

During construction take special care of your trees. Be attentive when installing a driveway and digging utility lines. Do not let the construction equipment scrape the bark from the trees. Signs of construction stress on trees show up either immediately or years ahead.
If you are ready to do your homeowner’s tree inspection, grab a pair of binoculars. Or use your smartphone that way you can take pictures in case you need to document and share your findings. We have prepared a “dangerous trees characteristics infographic” you can download and take to use as a reference.

Be cautious, trees are unpredictable, they do not always fall when and where you think. Don’t solve a problem and create another. When in doubt, contact your favorite tree professional. An experienced individual can spot problems, not visible to others. For those in and near Jacksonville, Florida, call Pyramid Lawn & Tree Services. They can help you with all your tree and lawn needs.


Man climbing tree with a chainsaw to do a tree removal service
Man climbing tree with a chainsaw to do a tree removal service.
Jose Luis Blandon

Comments (14)

  1. Lynn
    March 31, 2018

    What chemical or pesticide can I buy to kill a nuisance tree?

    • Byron M.
      March 31, 2018

      Hey Lynn, look for a herbicide with triclopyr, 2,4-D, picloram or dicamba. Do not apply if other trees are near or on rainy weather. On small trees spray the foliage with the herbicide. On medium or large trees, you are going to need to carve holes on the trunk and inject the chemical.

  2. Jocelyn McDonald
    May 14, 2018

    Recently I visited my sister’s house and noticed the large tree in her front yard could cause significant damage to her home if it tips over, which worries me. Your article about inspecting trees was very thorough, and your section on roots was very helpful. I remember my sister’s tree had fungus around the roots, which you cite as a clue of poor root condition. I will be sure to pass this information onto my sister and hope she considers hiring an arborist to assess if her tree needs removal.

  3. Joy Butler
    August 9, 2018

    Hi Jose, I’m grateful for your advice that trees can only be a threat if they can hit a target. In our case, there is a huge old oak tree near the swimming pool. Its debris and leaves fall directly to the pool and one time a big branch fell on it. Certainly, we need to ask a professional to remove it for us before any accident happens. Thanks and more power!

  4. Derek Dewitt
    February 19, 2019

    I had no idea that mushrooms could be a sign of root disease. I have noticed a lot more fungi around the base of my tree lately. I might need to get this inspected by a professional soon so I know if I need to treat it or not.

  5. Zoe Campos
    April 1, 2020

    Thank you for telling me that I should inspect our trees if some of them may represent danger and are in need of immediate removal. A lot of our trees are already old and dry and we leave them be, but the last heavy rainfall caused them to lean towards our house. I’m afraid that they might pose a threat to our safety so it might be better to call professionals to have them trimmed or removed.

  6. John
    January 12, 2021

    hey, I just found this blog post. I think I need some trees removed because they can hit a target of my house. I’m not in your area but what do you think of the company that has Charlottesville tree dot com?

  7. Joshua A. Davis
    February 1, 2021

    Wow. Good for you to figure out a good way for Tree removal and tree service fall river ma. I notice that some projects often require permits from the local building department. So it makes sense to hire a reputable, professional contractor that we will get quality work and economic efficiency in the end. I hired a tree removal Dartmouth ma years ago, and never disappointed anymore. Thank you for this article!

  8. Arthur John
    February 15, 2021

    I believe in the 80/20 rule. you know, where 80% of all reward comes from 20% of the effort? Well, I believe your blog is that 20%. I’ve added you to the list of sites that I frequent. Thank you for the in depth and detailed post about tree removal. Not many people are willing to do that anymore.

  9. Alfred Martin
    February 15, 2021

    I wish more people would post valuable content about tree removal. This is the first time I’ve been on your website, but after this, I doubt it will be the last time.

  10. Marionne Clydesdale
    February 16, 2021

    Is this still relevant for today? Or have things changed? What I’m curious about tree removal is how this will carry out, like what will the trend be for this type of stuff?

  11. Paul Glendale
    February 21, 2021

    This is a pretty great post about tree removal. I’ve been thinking of starting a blog on this subject myself. Any tips or anything you would recommend that I to avoid?

  12. Nicolas Avila
    May 5, 2021

    Good content. Like your idea heer.We have lived in quincy ma and have never had ony utility company come out and cut the branches, prune the trees for free and ask for tree services revere ma. You’re so lucky, we also have a few trees that need some trimming and caring, but we often do it by our selves since landscaping is expensive these days. We’re not quite sure what to look for right now, but there seems to be we need to cut an old tree down soon this month, we would which we believe,an expert in our local area for consultancy at first. Keep up the good work and keep sharing!

  13. Ella Starr
    May 28, 2021

    How helpful that you talk about how some trees can cause problems, and it is good to remove them in time. My husband and I just purchased an older home and we want to remove a couple of trees. We will find a reputable tree removal service in our area.

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