Tree Risk Assessment

Trees are a valuable asset to any property, offering shade, beauty, and a habitat for wildlife. However, they can also pose risks, especially if they are unhealthy or structurally compromised. To ensure the safety and longevity of your trees, it is crucial to conduct regular evaluations. Here are five key signs that indicate it’s time to schedule a Tree Risk Assessment.

1. Visible Damage to the Tree

Visible damage is one of the most apparent signs that you need a tree risk assessment. This damage can manifest in several ways:

Cracked or Split Trunks

Large cracks or splits in the trunk can significantly weaken a tree’s structure, making it more susceptible to breaking. Such damage often indicates that the tree’s internal structure has been compromised, posing a serious risk to nearby people and property.

Broken or Hanging Branches

Broken or hanging branches are particularly dangerous as they can fall at any time, causing injury or damage. Even small branches can be hazardous, especially during high winds or storms.

Leaning Trees

While some trees naturally grow at an angle, a sudden or increasing lean is a cause for concern. This often indicates root problems or other structural issues that compromise the tree’s stability. Immediate assessment and intervention may be necessary to prevent the tree from falling.

2. Signs of Disease or Infestation

Diseases and pest infestations can severely compromise a tree’s health and safety. Common signs include:

Fungal Growth

The presence of mushrooms or conks on or near the tree can indicate internal decay. Fungal growth is a clear sign that the tree’s internal structure is deteriorating, which can lead to sudden failure.

Discolored or Wilting Leaves

Leaves that are discolored, wilted, or falling out of season can be a sign of disease. This symptom often indicates that the tree is not able to transport nutrients effectively, weakening it over time.

Unusual Bark Patterns

Peeling, cracking, or missing sections of bark can indicate a serious health issue. These symptoms often point to underlying problems that can compromise the tree’s structural integrity.

3. Structural Issues

Structural issues can significantly impact a tree’s stability and safety. These issues might include:

Co-dominant Stems

Trees with two main stems growing from the same point can be more prone to splitting. This condition creates a weak point at the junction where the stems meet, increasing the risk of the tree splitting apart.

Included Bark

Included bark occurs when bark grows between two branches instead of around them, creating a weak attachment. This condition often leads to the branches splitting from the tree under their weight or during storms.

Weak Branch Unions

Branches that are poorly attached to the trunk can break off more easily. Weak branch unions are particularly problematic because they can lead to large branches falling unexpectedly, posing a significant risk.

4. Changes in the Environment

Environmental changes can affect a tree’s health and stability. Significant changes include:

Construction Activity

Nearby construction can disturb the soil and root systems of trees, making them more vulnerable to damage. Heavy machinery, soil compaction, and changes in drainage patterns can all negatively impact a tree’s health.

Soil Erosion

Erosion around the base of a tree can expose and damage roots, compromising the tree’s stability. Exposed roots are more susceptible to injury, disease, and environmental stress.

Weather Events

Severe weather, such as storms or heavy winds, can damage trees and make them more susceptible to failure. Trees that have endured harsh weather conditions should be evaluated to ensure they have not sustained damage that could lead to future problems.

5. Proximity to People and Property

Trees located near buildings, walkways, power lines, or high-traffic areas require special attention. The closer a tree is to people and property, the higher the risk if it fails. Signs of risk due to location include:

Overhanging Branches

Large branches over roofs, driveways, or power lines can cause damage if they fall. Regularly inspect and prune these branches to reduce risk.

Root Damage Near Foundations

Tree roots near or under foundations can cause structural damage and risk instability. Roots can also interfere with underground utilities, creating hazards.

Restricted Growing Space

Trees planted too close to each other or structures may not grow properly, leading to stress and potential failure. Monitor trees in confined spaces to ensure they stay healthy and stable.

The Benefits of Tree Risk Assessment

Conducting a tree risk assessment offers several benefits:


The primary benefit of a tree risk assessment is ensuring the safety of people and property. Identifying and mitigating risks can prevent accidents and damage.

Tree Health

A tree risk assessment can help diagnose health issues early, allowing for timely treatment and potentially saving the tree. Early intervention is often the key to addressing problems before they become severe.

Property Value

Healthy, well-maintained trees enhance the aesthetic appeal and value of your property. A tree risk assessment helps maintain this value by keeping your trees in good condition.

Peace of Mind

Knowing that your trees have been professionally assessed and any risks addressed provides peace of mind, especially during stormy seasons or after significant environmental changes.

What to Expect During a Tree Risk Assessment

A professional tree risk assessment involves several steps to thoroughly evaluate the health and stability of your trees:

Initial Inspection

The arborist will begin with a visual inspection of the tree, looking for obvious signs of damage, disease, or structural issues. This includes examining the trunk, branches, leaves, and root area.

Detailed Analysis

If initial concerns are identified, the arborist may conduct a more detailed analysis. This can include using tools to check for internal decay, measuring the lean of the tree, or assessing soil conditions around the root zone.

Risk Evaluation

Based on the findings, the arborist will evaluate the level of risk posed by the tree. This involves considering factors such as the tree’s health, structural integrity, and location relative to people and property.


After the evaluation, the arborist will provide recommendations for mitigating the identified risks. This might include pruning, cabling, bracing, treating diseases or infestations, or, in severe cases, tree removal.


A good tree risk assessment plan includes follow-up inspections and maintenance. Trees are dynamic living organisms, and their condition can change over time. Regular assessments help ensure ongoing safety and health.

Trees are a valued part of our landscapes but need proper care to stay safe and healthy. Scheduling a tree risk assessment is crucial for preventing accidents and preserving your property’s beauty and value.

Visible damage, disease signs, structural issues, environmental changes, and proximity to people and property indicate a tree risk assessment is needed. Addressing these signs promptly with a professional arborist ensures healthy trees and minimizes risks.

Regular tree risk assessments protect your property and loved ones and extend your trees‘ longevity. Don’t wait for disaster; be proactive in ensuring your trees’ safety and health with regular assessments and proper care.