The phone message usually goes something like this: “Sometime in the middle of the night, I thought I heard a thump… When I went out this morning I found my oak tree laying in the yard.” It is an unfortunate fact that trees fail, often very unexpectedly. In the next three posts, I will discuss the three main types of tree failure and what you can do to help prevent it.
In general, trees fail by uprooting because of some environmental influence (wind, rain, etc.,) or they fail because of decay or structural problems with the tree itself. Today, we will discuss uprooting trees.
Trees uproot because more force is applied to the upper canopy than the tree roots can hold. This can happen from wind, water, wet soil, or a combination of the three. Because of all the rain this summer, the soil has remained saturated for weeks at a time. Roughly 90% of a tree’s roots are in the top 18 to 24 inches of soil. When this part of the soil remains wet for extended periods, roots can actually loosen and lose their grip in the soil. The right wind in the right direction, and the tree uproots.
What can the homeowner do:
1. You can’t stop the rain, but you can watch your trees. Look closely for changes in lean. Any noticeable change means that the tree is beginning to fail. Sometimes this can occur very rapidly, or be subtle over weeks or months. If if looks funny, it probably is.
2. Be mindful when you make changes to your landscape. Trees have extensive root systems that can extend well beyond the dripline of the canopy. However, the roots are very sensitive and can be cut or crushed when work is done in the yard.
3. When you decide to remove trees, be mindful of those that are left. Trees that are isolated are much more susceptible to uprooting since they have grown up as a group with other trees that work together supporting each other.
4. Call a Certified Arborist and have them look at your trees with you. They will be able to identify risks or perhaps put fears to rest about your trees. I know some good Certified Arborists. You can reach them right here.
Trees are a huge asset to property and the community. Keeping them healthy and standing is important!