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How To Effectively Monitor and Maintain Your Trees

“Storms Make Trees Take Deeper Roots” – Dolly Parton

River birch tree in landscaped lawn in front of home

Before the leaves have changed and dropped, now is a good time to inspect your trees to ensure they are ready for winter weather. Dead branches can snap with snow and ice accumulation, causing damage to landscapes, cars, roofs, and people! Once the leaves are gone, tree trimmers and arborists can take a look to see what work needs to be done.

Trees in our landscapes cool our homes in the summer with their shade and prevent winds and rains from causing erosion. Well maintained and healthy trees also add to the value of a home from a visual and practical perspective.

Sick or damaged trees, trees that lean over a home, or trees planted too close to a house are not, however, desirable. Most home insurance providers require homeowners to remove any branches that are touching a roof, and will often advise the removal of some overhanging branches that look weak.

There are some simple steps you can take to help limit the damage your trees could cause to your home or personal property in a storm. If you monitor these conditions periodically you’ll sleep more soundly on a windy night knowing your diligence is protecting you.

Let’s work from the bottom of the tree to the top with tips on tree health and maintenance. Contacting a certified arborist whenever a question arises is always advised. And, leaving the heavy-duty maintenance and limb pruning to the professionals is always a good idea.

Root Level

  • Make sure extra dirt and mulch are not piled up next to the trunk. There should be nothing within 3 inches of the trunk but the dirt that covers the roots.

  • Look for mushrooms or fungus growing at the base of the trunk. This is an indication of root rot which weakens the foundation of the tree.

  • Check to make sure the soil is not badly compacted around the base of the tree. If it is, consider hiring a tree expert to do air tilling around the roots.

  • Look for circling roots. These are roots that look like they are growing in a circle around the base of the tree. They can girdle the tree over time and kill it. The sooner you can take care of this type of issue, the greater the chance you can keep the tree.


  • Look for twisted bark, indicating wind damage.

  • Check for signs of hollowing, decay, and mushroom growth. Moss and fungi are OK and natural. The first three indicate rotting wood.

  • Make sure the trees are not leaning significantly in any direction.

  • This could mean weak roots or soil that is too heavily saturated.

Upper Story

  • Make sure no limbs are in contact with power lines. Check this on dry and rainy days as rain can weigh down the branches more.

  • Check for large, dead branches.

  • Make sure no heavy branches are hanging over the house. An arborist can advise how to effectively reduce branches in your trees to limit falling risk.

Neighborhoods with large, established trees are always the most welcoming. If you take care of your trees from the start, you’ll reap the benefits for decades.

We started with a quote from Dolly Parton on trees. We’ll end with a few more of our favorites:

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”― Nelson Henderson

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” ― Chinese proverb



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