One of the most common calls arborists get is to inspect trees that look to be leaning. As a homeowner, leaning trees can definitely be cause for concern. A tree with severe lean, especially when aimed at a structure or an area where people frequent can be seen as a liability that needs to be taken care of. But do all leaning trees need to come down? Usually, the answer is no. As arborists, there are a number of telltale signs that a tree is either at risk of falling or poses no real threat.
The first step when determining if a tree is leaning dangerously is to figure out why it’s happening. Is the tree actually leaning over, or is it just crooked? The most common reason for a crooked tree is that the tree is reaching for space and sunlight, usually because of competing trees. If this is the case, the tree has likely spent its entire life growing crooked, and, as such, has intentionally built its structure to support the lean. In my experience, this is the most common situation I encounter when looking at a customer’s trees.
So how can we tell when a leaning tree is actually a threat? The simplest way is determining if the lean is a new development. Was there a storm recently? Is the ground around the base of the tree cracked, raised, or sunken? Look up: Is there a gap in the canopy where the tree in question should be? These are all telltale signs that the tree has recently shifted and could be a potential threat.
What can be done with a leaning tree? Well, if the tree is indeed starting to lean and is not just crooked, full removal is oftentimes the preferred solution, especially if the tree’s trajectory is at something of value. If the tree seems safe and sound, but has a crooked growth habit, we might recommend pruning excessive weight off the ends, so that as the tree continues to grow it does not get too heavy on the side of its lean.
If you’ve got a leaning tree, please don’t hesitate to call us. We will be able to properly diagnose your tree’s condition and recommend the best course of action.