Predicting conditions that can result in damage of trees and taking the proper actions to prevent potential problems in the near future is the key to preventing tree damage. Prediction can be done by assessing a tree form, its present decay and to what extent, stem girdling roots and site problems.
Trees tend to suffer from various forms of natural imperfections that can lead to damage under storm conditions. The inclusion of tree barks at branch unions is a regular weak point in trees. Healthy trees consist of branch unions with a protruding, rough branch bark ridge where the branches meet. Without such a proper union, branches or leaders tend to separate in storms. Trees can also have co-dominant leaders. This is present when a tree has two or more branches and stems that are growing to become the center point of the tree. Co-dominant leaders always exhibit inclusion at their unions.
Decay is a naturally induced degradation of a tree’s branch, stem or root tissue. Rotting tissues lack structural strength and are also among the major contributors to tree failure. Locating decay and eliminating it at an early stage will definitely save a tree’s health. Decay on a single branch is not a critical situation because such branches can be cut off. Decay in the main part of the trunk is dangerous and can result in failure during a storm. A branch should comprise of at least 1-1.5 inches of solid wood for every 3 inches. Anything less than that is a sign that the branch might fall away during a storm.
Stem Girdling Roots
These are roots at or slightly below the soil surface that have a tendency of encircling a tree trunk. They compress the tree causing a weak point that can easily break in storms. Pruning the girdling roots can save an affected tree from failure.
Assessing the area around a tree can also help in predicting tree failure. A loose soil system cannot hold a large tree in a vertical position; they tend to give way during strong winds and storms. It is also vital to note that improper maintenance services can lead to damage or even open wounds that can start decaying in the long run.
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