Many homeowners have trees in their yards, but few pay those trees much attention on a regular basis. If you have left your trees to their own devices for the past several years, then it's a good idea for you to look over them carefully to ensure any issues, such as diseases or dead branches, are identified and dealt with properly.
Conducting a "tree audit" should only take a few hours for the average-sized property. When you're done with the audit, you'll have a better idea of what you or your tree care provider needs to do in order to take better care of your trees. Follow these steps to conduct your audit.
Step 1: Look at Your Power Lines
Trees growing through the power lines can pull the line down when there's a windstorm, creating a risk of fire and electric shock. Even if your tree is not directly touching the power line, conditions may still be dangerous if a tree towers over the line or has branches that reach within a few feet of it. Trimming, and in some cases removing, the tree in question can keep you and your family safe.
Never attempt to trim a tree that's touching a power line. Contact a tree care company to tackle this project for you; they can coordinate with your local power company if necessary.
Step 2: Assess the Roof
If there are any tree branches overhanging your roof, you'll need to have them trimmed back. A tree that is badly leaning toward your roof may even need to be removed completely. During a storm, a branch could snap off and land on your roof, causing serious damage. The shade created by tree branches is also bad for your shingles, as it traps moisture within them.
Step 3: Take Note of Dead Branches
Look over one tree at a time, and make note of any dead branches that you see. You will want to have these branches trimmed away so they don't continue leeching nutrients and water away from the tree's healthy tissues.
If a tree has many dead branches, this could be a sign of a fungal infection. Your tree care service may be able to revive the tree by removing the dead branches and applying fungicides, but some tree diseases are impossible to treat. In this case, your best option may be to remove the tree.
Step 4: Look for Brackets
While you look for dead branches, also check to see whether there are brackets emerging from any of the trees' trunks. (Brackets look like large mushrooms). By the time brackets appear, a tree has a serious fungal infection that has moved into its inner tissues. The tree will typically need to be removed before it dies completely and is at risk of falling.
Step 5: Inspect Your Trees for Insects
A couple of insects here and there are generally no cause for concern, but if you're seeing swarms of insects around a particular tree, you should be worried. Many tree diseases are spread by insects, and insects can also weaken a tree, leaving it prone to more serious ailments. Here are some examples of insects you may spot on your trees.
Emerald Ash Borers
These greenish beetles attack black, green, and white ash trees. These insects are incredibly destructive and can kill a healthy tree by boring into the cambium and leeching nutrients from the tree.
Japanese beetles are known for their shiny, multicolored exoskeletons. These beetles have been known to feed on more than 300 species of plants, including many trees, eating away the leaves until only the veins are left behind.
Elm Bark Beetles
If you notice brown beetles on your elm tree's bark, be prepared to say "goodbye" to your elm tree. These beetles often carry Dutch elm disease, a deadly infection that has killed thousands of elms in the U.S.
When you're done auditing your trees, give T's Trees a call. Tell us about any problems you've detected during the audit. We'll come take a closer look and recommend the best ways to care for your tree, whether it has dead branches, has an insect infestation, or is overhanging your roof.