Trees are such an important part of your property. They offer you shade, screening, and beauty. Plus, they often have sentimental value and they do essential work for the environment by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. You may not know that trees can also make the air cleaner by trapping and holding dust particles! For that reason, each tree in your landscape contributes to improved air quality to the air you are breathing.
With all of these and other benefits in mind, you likely want to do whatever you can to protect the trees on your property so that they continue to look and perform their best for years to come.
However, as much as your trees mean to you, the last thing that you’d want is for them to cause damage to your home or property—or even worse, a person. If you have a tree on your property that is worrying you, you might be looking for answers in terms of the risk that it poses.
Fortunately, there are ways to get answers to your questions. A “tree risk assessment,” is a service that involves a professional inspection of the tree (or trees) in question. This is the official name of this service, though we’ll call it “tree inspection,” for the purposes of this article.
We recognize that a lot of people don’t know too much about this service, so we’re aiming to answer all of your pressing questions.
Why is a Tree Inspection Performed?
Generally, when Joshua Tree gets called to perform a tree inspection it is because there is some sort of structural weakness in question. Sometimes, this is because of storm-related damage. High winds or lightning can certainly lead to structural damage to a tree.
But sometimes, it’s just a matter of declining health. A tree that is in poor health can also pose risks as limbs decay or die.
Whatever the case may be, the client is looking to understand their risk factor in terms of the potential damage the tree could cause.
How Bad is My Tree?
When we’re out to perform a tree inspection, this is the question that clients want an answer to. The fact is, oftentimes, clients don’t notice problems until they are glaringly obvious, such as a large hanging limb or a significant problem with the trunk (like a decaying hole).
The vast majority of the time, it’s a problem that has been going on for a long time (usually many years). For this reason, it would be our recommendation not to wait until there is a problem to have your trees inspected. But, we’ll cover that next.As we mentioned, most people are thinking about tree problems in terms of risk and they want to be given some idea of how “risky their situation really is.”
When we’re looking at risk and considering recommendations, we’re generally thinking about two things.
- The value of the tree (and how concerned the homeowner is with potentially losing it)
- What the tree or limb would strike (we refer to this as the “target”) if it were to fail
With this can come a whole range of different scenarios. The potential targets for a failing tree will significantly impact our determination. For instance, you might have a tree limb that has structural uncertainties but if it’s hanging over a public sidewalk, that’s a high-risk target, so you’re going to want to take action.
If you have a tree in the middle of a property and there’s nothing around that it could fall on, we might evaluate that as low risk. But if you tell us that you’re mowing near it all of the time, that evaluation might change.
You can see how it really is site-specific in so many ways.
What Should I Do?
Of course, the whole purpose of this process is to form a recommendation. You should know that there’s no crystal ball involved in all of this. What you’re getting is an expert’s experienced evaluation of what they believe could happen and what they suggest you do in order to prevent it.
Note: When there are high-risk targets involved, we’re always going to err on the side of caution (as you should too).
The proposed solutions are going to vary based upon the factors we just described. For example, if it’s a low-risk target, we may just remove the defect (such as a cracked limb) and then might perform tree bracing or cabling.
However, if it’s a high-risk target, we could potentially recommend tree removal. Again, it really is going to vary from situation to situation but this should at least give you some idea of what to expect.
How Often Should a Tree Inspection be Performed?
In an ideal world, people would have their trees inspected annually, regardless of whether they’ve noticed a problem. As we mentioned, most of the time when a problem is spotted, it’s been there for a while and therefore has become increasingly severe.
But if problems can be spotted early, they can be addressed before they become serious. Oftentimes that gives you more options and may even be the difference between saving your tree or needing to take it down.
Of course, we recognize that a lot of people don’t think about their trees until there is a problem. Once a tree inspection is performed on a problematic tree and a solution is put into place (such as tree cabling or bracing), you’ll want to make sure that tree is inspected every year going forward to ensure that the structural problems are not getting worse.
How is Tree Inspection Performed?
A tree inspection begins with the tree inspector working through a methodical evaluation that starts by looking at the soil and the root collar (where the trees come out of the ground). They’re inspecting for things like fungi (often resembling mushrooms), trunk girdling, or discoloration, all of which could indicate a structural concern.
From there, they are moving up methodically, looking at the trunk in sections and inspecting for loose bark, structural cracks, or even hollow areas that would indicate there are animals taking up residence.
As the tree inspector moves their line of sight up the tree, they’re carefully inspecting the structural limbs, observing how they are attached to the trunk. They’re also looking all the way out to the tips of the branches and looking for concerns there.
Though this is all performed from the ground, a trained professional will know exactly what to look for. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a pro to spot a hanging limb that the client never even noticed because it’s more on the inside of the canopy.
This explains the importance of having a Certified Arborist perform your arborist tree inspection. Going even further, there is actually a tree inspector certification. At Joshua Tree, we have two ISA Certified Arborists that are also Certified Tree Risk Assessors.
How Much Does Tree Inspection Cost?
At Joshua Tree, we do not charge a fee for an arborist tree inspection. One of the reasons for this is that we do not produce an official tree inspection report, as some companies do.
When we come out, we’re going to perform a thorough evaluation and then tell you what needs to be done. We will also provide a quote for performing the recommended services for you.
Working with a Certified Tree Inspector in Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton, PA
It’s important to recognize that there can be a lot of differences from one tree company to the next. Some tree services take this very seriously and expect that their team members not only participate in ongoing training and education but also acquire professional certifications. However, other tree companies aren’t willing to invest the time and financial resources into getting their team trained.
At Joshua Tree, we believe strongly in training, education, and certifications. In fact, our 20+ team members hold almost 60 industry-specific certifications.
On top of having Certified Arborists on staff, some of the additional certifications our tree experts hold include:
- PA Ornamental Tree & Shrub Care License
- Tree Risk Assessor
- Tree Climber Specialist
- Aerial Lift Specialist
- Chainsaw Specialist
- Chipper Operations Specialist
This should instill some confidence in the level of competency and skill that our team members have, which is important when you’re talking about high-risk situations (or even low-risk situations that can become high-risk if not properly handled).
When it comes to your valuable trees, you want to do whatever you can to save them. But even more important, you don’t want them to pose any risk of damage, harm, or something more serious such as a tree-related death.
By choosing to work with a tree service that has significant experience, training, and skill (backed up with professional certifications) you can feel confident that you’ll be guided toward a wise decision about your trees. That should give you the peace of mind that your property is in good hands.
If you’re interested in having your trees inspected at your Allentown, Bethlehem, or Easton, PA home so that you can gain some peace of mind, contact us for a free consultation or give us a call at 610-365-2200 so that we can answer your questions.