Trees fall down for many reasons. Sometimes it’s due to weather events, but this is less common than property owners think. Healthy trees should be able to weather storms without significant damage. In this post, Island Tree Service, Fort Myers’ certified arborist, discusses the reasons in greater detail.
1. Soggy Soil
Complex tree situations almost always start with the soil the tree grows in. Proper drainage is essential because wet soil does not grip the roots as well as dry soil during heavy winds. We call this situation windthrow because the roots cannot find enough purchase in the waterlogged soil.
Think about it this way, is it easier to weed your garden when the soil is dry or wet? The latter is true because the water loosens the roots, making them easier to remove.
Soil may become waterlogged due to changes in landscaping, new development, or excessive rain. Your best defense is to improve the drainage again by digging in pipes or using surface contouring to redirect the water.
Alternatively, you can shore up the root system by mulching the area from the outside of the dripline to a few inches away from the bark. The mulch will decompose, adding nutrients, aerating the soil, and keeping it friable. In times of heavy rainfall, avoid mulching to allow the ground to dry faster.
2. Root damage
Root damage is another primary reason that trees fall down. More often than not, this damage is inflicted by humans when they:
- Install a new footpath or road.
- Dig into the ground to install or repair utilities.
- Are restricted by house foundations or other installations.
- Are compacted due to heavy traffic, like with a driveway.
The primary danger here is that the damage may take time to become evident; a tree may limp along for 10 to 15 years before it topples. For this reason, people may not always realize the impact of roadworks and other construction on trees.
3. Wind Direction
While growing, the entire tree anchors itself against the prevailing wind patterns. You will find that the strongest roots and much of the tree’s support is on the trunk’s windward side. This makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint as the tree tries to mitigate risks to its health.
Unfortunately, this leaves the tree in a poor position if the winds blow from a different direction. There are several reasons that this is likely to happen, the primary ones being climate change and developments.
New buildings may change windflow patterns in the area, channeling winds in a different manner than before.
4. Dead Limbs
The closer a tree limb is to dying, the more likely it will fall during a storm. One or two limbs that come off are seldom the reason trees fall down. However, if a tree is already dying and more branches drop, it can overbalance and topple.
The easiest way to overcome this issue is to remove dead branches as soon as possible. If the entire tree is dying, it’s time for removal. Trees with co-dominant stems, where the trunk splits into two, are at greater risk of falling. An arborist can help you brace the tree to prevent further damage.
Contact Your Local Specialists for the Right Advice
The best proactive measure you can take is to schedule regular visits from certified arborists. While most people believe they will notice if a tree is in trouble, they are surprised by the answer to, “How long will a dead tree stand?”
Few people also realize the imminent danger that compromised trees pose during extreme weather. Now that you know how easily trees fall down, it’s time to take action. Call Island Tree Service at 239-463-5121 to schedule a tree risk assessment today!