Fall weather can bring some gusty winds, and if you live in the woods, a little concern about potential tree damage. Even if you don’t live in the thick of the woods, having trees near a home during a windy day generally breeds a little concern. But it doesn’t have to! With regular tree maintenance you can feel snug as a bug in a rug during a gusty day or a bad storm.
Trees need regular maintenance, but a professional to get the job done. Generally, a householder is not equipped to prune or fell trees. Did you know that in 1 year, 66% of homeowners injured in DIY tree care or removal were fatal? A householder’s job is to water their trees, to be the eyes on the ground spotting trouble, and to find the right tree service for the job. Read below to learn how to identify trouble with a tree and how to find a good tree service.
Tree Maintenance and Spotting Trouble
- Water your trees once a week for a half an hour to promote good structural growth
- Walk the property and look at the top, middle, and bottom of your trees.
- Look for broken or dead branches (We had 1/3 of our biggest tree die in one month. I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t looked up. It turns out it had Sudden Oak Death and needed to be removed. This tree was one of our biggest and could have flattened the house.) If you see dead branches have them pruned. Pruned trees keep people and property safe from falling branches.
- Look for leaf discoloration. (Our Maple leaves came back light in the Spring and the edges of the leaves were crinkling like they were burning. It turns out they had a fungus.)
- Look for chew marks or holes in the leaves to spot a potential insect infestation.
- Middle (Trunk)
- Look for holes, cracks, or mushrooms. All can be signs of trouble. (When we were evaluating our trees this Spring, the arborist (tree guy) told me there are these insects that bore into the trunk and ruin the structure of the tree. You can tell if you have them by looking for inexplicable saw dust around the tree.) If you see holes, cracks, or mushrooms you may want to have your tree evaluated to make sure it is still healthy.
- Is the soil lifting?
- Are the roots cracked?
- Are the roots on their way to cause damage to a structure?
- Have your trees inspected every three years.
If your walkabout turns up concerning information, it is time to call a tree service. So how do you pick a reputable one?
Picking a Tree Service
For any tree service you call, you are going to want to find out the following information:
- How long have you been in business?
- You want your tree service to have at least 10 years of experience.
- Do you have arborists on staff?
- Arborists are the tree experts.
- How do you minimize damage to the yard?
- At minimum, they should use plywood to protect the lawn when they come into your yard.
- What equipment do you have and is it OSHA certified?
- You want to make sure the equipment they have is in good working order and certified to prevent equipment failure or damage while moving tree limbs over your roof, cars, lawn, furniture etc.
- Do you have insurance?
- If accidents happen, you don’t want the financial responsibility landing at your feet.
- What credentials or licenses do you have?
- These should be listed on their website and provide peace of mind.
- Can I get a free estimate?
- Get at least a couple, if not three, estimates. The estimates give you an idea of how they will approach the job and what a reasonable price is.
Once you have picked a tree service, tree maintenance becomes easy. All you have to do, is take a walkabout now and then and call your service when trouble pops up.
The next time Maryland faces a Nor’easter or a gloriously gusty Fall day, you will be able to enjoy the view instead of worrying about the damage.
Arbor Day Foundation. Tree Care Tips and Techniques. Accessed: 28 September 2023.
Johnson, Allie. Tree Maintenance 101 for Homeowners. 20 July 2023.
The Ultimate Cheat Sheet: How to Hire a Tree Care Service, Accessed: 28 September 2023.