8 Signs Your Tree May Not Weather Winter Storms

Written by Shawn Kingzette of The Davey Tree Expert Co.
Updated January 6, 2022
tree branches with fall leaves
Well-maintained trees can increase a property’s value. So it’s important to make sure an arborist you’d like to hire has the proper qualifications. (Photo by Eldon Lindsay)

Make sure your trees aren't accidents waiting to happen.

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Storms, ice and extreme winter temperatures take their toll on local ecosystems: downing trees, breaking limbs and causing power outages. With winter storm season just around the corner, now is the time to protect homes and trees.

Checking your trees is as easy as looking up. Strong, healthy trees that receive regular maintenance can make all the difference when it comes to tree resilience during a storm.

Check for these eight types of defects in your trees now:

1. Dead wood

Dead wood is often dry and brittle and doesn’t bend in the wind. Dead branches are extremely dangerous and need immediate attention.

2. Cracks

Cracks are deep splits in the bark that extend into the tree’s cavity. Cracks indicate that the tree is not in good condition.

3. Decay

Decay is represented by soft, crumbly wood or cavities where wood is missing. Advanced decay, needing immediate attention, is often accompanied by fungi growing near the roots.

4. Weak branch unions

A weak union occurs when two or more branches grow too closely together. The bark growing in between them is not strong enough to support their weight.

5. Thick canopies

Excessively thick branches and foliage catch the wind during stormy weather like a sail, increasing the risk of branch breakage and uprooting. Thinning the canopy allows wind to blow through the tree instead of pushing against it.

6. Cankers

Cankers are dead areas of bark on stems or branches caused by a wound or fungi. Pruning out a canker can remove most of the fungi from the tree.

7. Root problems

Without a strong root system, trees are more likely to be uprooted or blown over in windy weather. Look out for nearby construction that may sever large roots or compact soil too much to allow for healthy growth.

8. Poor tree architecture

Characterized by excessive leaning or branches growing out of proportion, this growth pattern may indicate weakness or structural imbalance. Not all odd-looking trees are dangerous, however.

Because some tree risks are not visible or obvious, any tree of concern should be examined by a professional arborist. Certified arborists can evaluate the trees species, soil conditions, wind exposure, defects, overall health and other factors to determine potential hazards.

About this Experts Contributor

Shawn Kingzette is an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist and a district manager for The Davey Tree Expert Co., providing tree service at its Northwest Chicago office in East Dundee, Illinois. Find a Davey arborist near you at davey.com. Follow this contributor on Twitter.

As of  December 3, 2014, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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