By Madeline Hagaman ¦ Technical Writer

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) recommends having mature trees inspected annually. It’s important to set up a full tree inspection to maintain healthy trees during critical summer months. Supplement this care by periodically examining the trees on your property for the following signs of tree damage or other problems:

  • Spring has sprung, but there are no leaves in sight. Dead trees can be difficult to spot in the winter, but if a tree doesn’t sprout leaves in the spring, it’s likely dead. A professional should be called in immediately to avoid damage or injury should the limbs or the entire tree fall.

  • Fungus and mushroom growth. When a tree’s roots begin to rot, mushrooms and other fungi invite themselves to feed on the decay. Roots support the weight of a tree and deliver vital nutrients, so when they become compromised, a tree is more likely to split or fall. If you’ve had a rainy spring, be sure to carefully inspect your trees for signs of fungi.

  • Loose or missing bark. Bark is the living, protective layer around a tree, so if it is damaged or missing, the exposed wood becomes vulnerable to insect infestation and disease.

  • Dead branches. Tree damage, such as dead branches, should be seen by a professional immediately as falling limbs can damage property or cause injury. Dead branches also allow decay to enter formerly healthy portions of the tree.

  • Changes in growth patterns. Take notice of any general changes in the size and shape of the crown, the twig growth in the spring, the size and color of the leaves, or the overall lean of the tree. During a full tree inspection, a certified arborist or degreed forester will be able to determine the source of these problems.

  • Unusual insect presence. While insects are vital to the health and reproduction of trees, some species can be fatal. Certain beetle species tunnel into the bark to lay their eggs, which disrupts the normal flow of nutrients throughout the tree’s transport tissue, known as the xylem and phloem. If you notice discoloration or chewed-off sections on the leaves, there may be sucking or chewing insects that are disrupting the health of your tree. A tree professional can tell you which species are common in your region and if your tree is experiencing a problem.

  • Changes around your property. The most active portion of a root system usually lives near the soil surface but extends outward one to three times the height of a tree. Companies working on underground lines on or near your property can often carelessly hack through roots. Roots can also be damaged during sidewalk repair, pavement installation, and soil leveling. Seeking out professional tree care can help to minimize potential damage.

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Sources: Georgia Forestry Commission; International Society of Arboriculture; Trees Are Good.

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