Knowing When To Remove A Damaged Tree

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Immediately after a strong storm or hurricane, homeowners and community members have to make crucial decisions regarding what to do with trees that have been damaged by the storm. It may seem like a huge undertaking, but fortunately, not all trees need to be permanently removed. Most trees, in fact, only require treatment and can be saved. Others may be fine the way they are and don't require any intervention. That's why it's important to understand when a tree needs to be removed and when it's better left alone.

You'll have to remove the tree if the lower trunk is cracked or broken. When a tree is broken at the bottom, it's impossible to fix. When a crack extends fully into the trunk it won't close and the tree becomes a safety hazard. The rest of the trunk will most likely fall and must be removed.

If a large stem has slipped from the tree, it will have to be removed. You may notice a dark area at the top of the split - this is called a bark inclusion and is a good indication that the tree must be removed. Bark inclusions occur when the connection between branches is very weak and likely to lead to breakage.

If the tree is leaning towards something, this is a major safety hazard and it will have to be removed in this situation as well. A leaning tree will eventually fall and could harm someone, cause damage to a building, power line, road, or other object. It needs to be removed immediately. The cause of a leaning tree is usually major root breakage, which is very unsafe.

Again, if you see evidence that the major roots are severed or broken, it's more likely than not that the tree will have to be removed. This is especially true for mature trees because major root damage in older trees is more likely to cause instability and pose a safety hazard for the immediate area. Sometimes younger trees can be righted if there is minor root damage, however, you should contact a certified arborist before making such a decision. Larger trees depend on the roots for structural support, which is why they can't be saved in such a condition.

When larger limbs are broken, and canopy damages quite severe, it's more difficult to restore broken branches. In these cases, the tree will probably have to be removed. Although arborists try to save as many trees as possible, not all cases are suitable for restoration.

Trees that can be restored should have all major limbs, the trunk, and the roots in place. There shouldn't be any cracks in major limbs or on the trunk, and no decayed wood or bark inclusions. Roots that have been exposed or lifted out of the soil cannot be saved. Before the storm occurred, the tree should have been in good health.

After a major hurricane, you'll probably want to restore as many trees on your property as possible. You may not be able to save them all, however, if you know what to look for beforehand and hire professionals to handle the dirty work, the damage and losses you experience may not be as extreme as you originally expect.

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Devin Gilliland provides expert advice on landscaping and landscaping installation in florida at

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