Top things I wish homeowners knew about their trees

These are the top 10 things that I wish homeowners knew about their trees:

  1. Topping your tree is a bad idea. Your oak or maple tree isn’t a shrub and can’t be cut back in the same way as your bushes. Topping leads to weak branch attachments and can cause issues down the road if the tree even survives topping.
  2. There’s no tap root under your tree. Most trees lose their initial tap root as the root crown gets larger and chokes out the young center root. The strength of a tree’s anchor in the wind lies in its broad, but shallow root system.
  3. It’s okay to trim your neighbor’s tree. Unfortunately it’s not your neighbor’s responsibility to trim tree branches over your property, although anyone can be a nice neighbor and help a friend out. But in our state, you own whatever is growing over the fence line, no matter what side of the fence the trunk is on.
  4. Declining trees can’t be saved. By the time most people notice that a tree needs help, it’s usually too late to help it with any certainty. After years of subtle signs of stress, the tree finally presents the symptoms of decline which eventually lead to death.This phase may also take several years.
  5. When your tree loses its leaves early, don’t sweat. Different species lose their leaves at different times in the fall, or at least toward the end of the summer, and an early fall for one tree may not mean that it is actually dead.
  6. Carpenter ants aren’t killing your tree. A common myth is that ants infest trees and cause their demise, but these large black ants only tunnel through wood that is already dead in the tree and don’t hurt live tissue. They can be a symptom, but are not usually the cause of a bigger problem.
  7. It’s not okay to damage tree bark, even a little bit. A damaged area of any size can become an entry point for harmful insects and diseases, and a large wound in the bark can eventually lead to the death of the tree. 
  8. Tree roots are sensitive. Don’t regularly drive or park your car under your tree. And don’t cut roots in the yard unless they are far away from the critical root zone. Enlarging the size of the mulch bed around the base of the tree works well to protect and feed tree roots.
  9. Tree roots don’t always disturb house foundations. Sure, under the right conditions a large tree too close to the house can definitely cause cracks in a foundation, but most of the time, your crawlspace or slab isn’t an inviting place for roots seeking moist soil.
  10. Cavities in your tree should be left open. Please don’t pour concrete into the hollow wound sites in your tree! Fillers can hide insects and become a breeding ground for all manner of harmful critters. Leaving the hole open allows it to dry out, and mitigates fungal growth. The best prevention for a cavity is proper pruning.


There are many factors that go into providing a thorough tree inspection, but these are a few of the most common considerations.

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