Winter Tree Inspections: Unveiling Hidden Clues

February 8, 2024 · 1 minute read
Winter Tree Inspections: Unveiling Hidden Clues

As the winter season is upon us, my attention turns to the structure of trees. Stripped of their summer foliage, issues can be seen that remain veiled during warmer months. As an arborist at Truetimber, I’ve been busy conducting complementary winter inspections, observing details that often elude us when leaves are in full bloom.

What to Look For: A Quick Checklist

  1. Broken Cables: Ground-level inspections allow us to assess cabling systems. If you’ve had cables installed, make sure to invite your arborist for a thorough check, which should be performed annually. 
  2. Large Dead Limbs: Bark peeling off dead limbs becomes obvious in the winter season. These limbs are often overlooked in a canopy of leaves.
  3. Healthy Limbs: Winter sunlight reflects on the tips of healthy branches. Swollen buds, especially in elms, signal vitality even in the dormant season.
  4. Cavities at the Tree Crown: Recently, while the electrical company pruned and removed dead trees near power lines, I noticed a large hollow in a tree slated for removal. Advocating for wildlife, I requested that the tree be reduced to just below the wires instead of completely being removed—a small victory for the furry inhabitant.
  5. Decayed Mushrooms: Summer mushrooms vanish swiftly, but winter preserves their presence. As arborists, we pay attention to these persistent indicators of decay.
  6. Trunk Cracks: The aftermath of storms leaves its mark. Cracks in trunks, whether from weak unions or past issues, warrant close examination.  Maybe a cable could help?
  7. Broken and Hanging Limbs: Concealed within the summer canopy, these precarious limbs become evident in winter. Their readiness to fail demands our attention.

Wintertime is probably where I find the most joy looking at trees. These few months bring a perspective to the landscape so different from the others. Noticing distance and land contours through the bare trees is something I look forward to every winter season. The trees themselves take on a whole new presence, showing off their shape and form. Take a moment to enjoy your trees and maybe you’ll find something you’ve never noticed before.