Large trees provide shade and beauty, but if a tree is unhealthy, it can also threaten the safety of your property. To determine whether a tree is dangerous, inspect four aspects of the tree: the tree itself, the ground around it, the trunk and the canopy. Damage in any of these areas can mean the tree may have structural problems.
Stand in a place where you can see the entire tree at once. Check whether the tree is leaning heavily in one direction. This isn't necessarily an indicator of damage if the tree has grown that way. If you notice a tree leaning that wasn't leaning previously, however, the change may indicate a problem.
Next, inspect the tree for large spaces that are devoid of leaves or limbs that are drooping. These symptoms could point to an unhealthy tree.
Inspect the ground around the tree to determine the health of the roots. If the roots show signs of damage or decay, the tree is likely in trouble. Fungal growth on the roots or base of the tree is a key indicator of dead wood. If you see prolific fungal growth, the tree is likely dangerous.
If you see cracked or raised soil, it may indicate that the tree is uprooting. If you see sawdust, it may mean insects are attacking the tree. Both are signs of a potentially dangerous tree.
Signs of a diseased trunk include missing bark or bark that's falling off. The trunk of a tree may have cracks or cavities. It doesn't necessarily make the tree dangerous, but a large or pervasive crack or cavity may mean you need to consider tree removal.
If a tree has multiple trunks, be especially vigilant when inspecting the joining point. If the joining point is in a tight V-shape, it may indicate weakness. A U-shape indicates a strong joint.
The canopy of the tree should be inspected from below for dead limbs. Deciduous tree limbs missing leaves or evergreen limbs with brown or missing needles are likely dead. Inspect for broken branches, as well, particularly after a storm.
The cost of tree removal can range from $100 to $1,000. If you find indicators that your tree is dangerous, contact a tree professional to inspect your tree and determine whether intervention or tree removal is necessary.
Tree removal can cause property damage, so use someone reputable and insured. Stay away from door-to-door salesman who are not credentialed. Read online reviews, and do not pay for work that hasn't been performed.