Winter Tree Inspection: What Tree Risk Assessments Can Reveal About Your Dormant Trees

While you might not be thinking much about your trees in the winter, this is actually the best time of the year to assess your trees. Believe it or not, those beautiful leaves on your trees can be hiding problems during other seasons.

But when trees are bare, a winter tree inspection can help reveal potential structural concerns or other issues.

In this article, we’ll dive into the importance of a winter tree inspection and why it should be performed by a proper professional. Tree risk assessments performed by a qualified pro can actually prevent serious trouble.

With a winter tree inspection, you can help ensure your tree’s health and safety throughout the year.

Why is a Winter Tree Inspection so Beneficial?

As we’ve mentioned, it is significantly easier to evaluate a tree in the winter, when the leaves are gone. Those beautiful leaves that are on your trees in the spring, summer, and fall can end up hiding potential issues with the branches.

But when trees are bare, Certified Arborists can see everything. This will allow them to help spot a structural defect with a branch that they might not otherwise see.

certified arborist and customer inspecting large trees in a wooded area

It’s also beneficial to have a winter tree inspection as trees can become a potential hazard during snow and ice storms. If snow or ice builds up on an already-weakened limb (that really should have been pruned), it could be at risk of falling.

Proper and regular pruning is critical when it comes to preventing snow and ice damage to your trees…and also reducing the risk of a hazardous situation. Anytime that a large limb falls, it can pose a serious risk.

But if you have continued to maintain your trees with regular structural pruning, you can improve your chances that they will be able to withstand added weight from snow and/or ice.

During a winter tree inspection, it can be determined if any of your trees have risky characteristics that need to be addressed prior to a storm.

An expert will also look at any potential storm damage that has already occurred and possibly weakened your tree. A tree that is leaning or has hanging branches can pose a serious risk. Some signs of winter storm damage include:

  • Cracks in the trunk
  • Cracks in limbs
  • Hanging or broken limbs
  • Leaning
  • Fallen limbs

Damage is not always obvious but a professional will help identify problems during a  winter tree inspection.

Dormant Pruning During the Winter

During a winter tree inspection, it will be determined which trees/branches might benefit from pruning. There are significant benefits to dormant pruning during the winter. It’s easier to make strategic cuts to the tree when the branches are not covered in leaves. It will be clear exactly which branches should be pruned.

Dormant pruning is also less stressful on your trees since they are already experiencing a period of rest. They are not undergoing stress from intense heat or drought (like in the summer) or because of actively growing (in the spring). This makes it easier for your trees to recover.

Because pruning is good for your trees, people tend to forget that it can still be stressful for them, too. Anytime that you’re making cuts to the tree, you’re putting it under some stress.

Disease and pest problems also tend to be reduced with dormant pruning during the winter. Most pests and diseases are not active in the winter months. Pruning (making cuts) can open a tree up to new threats. Those cuts (or wounds) are temporarily weakened points of the tree where a disease or pest could attack.

But that will not be a problem in the winter.

Maximize Your Trees' Health: Explore Our Essential Tree Care Guide

Dormant pruning can also lead to improved springtime growth. When you prune during the winter, new foliage has enough time to harden off before the stressful summer conditions set in.

It also helps that dormant trees tend to recover quicker. Since they don’t have to put their energy into growing or dealing with stressors, they can simply focus their energy on recovering from pruning.

Getting an ISA Tree Risk Assessment

As with any service, it's not meaningful unless it’s performed by the proper professional. You want to make sure that you’re getting everything out of a tree risk assessment by working with a pro who will do a thorough job and know exactly what to look for.

That’s why we recommend making sure that your tree risk assessment is performed by a pro that is certified by ISA, the International Society of Arboriculture.

certified arborists climbing and pruning large shade trees with tree climbing equipment

ISA offers TRAQ (Tree Risk Assessment Qualification) as a credential that demonstrates professional knowledge in tree risk assessment.

Having a pro on your property who is ISA TRAQ certified helps you to know that you’re going to get the most out of your tree risk assessment.

An ISA TRAQ certified pro has participated in training and has also learned a standardized, systematic process for assessing tree risk.

At Joshua Tree Experts, when we perform a tree risk assessment we are giving a close visual look at your tree, sometimes using a magnifying glass. We’ll look at the tree in its entirety, including its root system.

This service can help deliver peace of mind as homeowners can feel confident that their trees are being properly cared for.

The truth is, even if your trees look healthy to you, there could be a hidden issue that could be posing some risk. It’s better to get any issues addressed before the spring when your tree will be actively growing again and covered in leaves.

Set Yourself Up for a Healthy Growing Season

At the end of the day, a tree risk assessment can help set you up for success in the coming months. With any problems identified and addressed, you’ll make sure that your trees start the spring with a healthy growing season.

The key, as we’ve mentioned, is working with the right professionals. You’ll want to make sure to choose a tree care company that hires Certified Arborists who can properly assess a tree based on their wealth of knowledge and experience.

At Joshua Tree Experts, we have ISA TRAQ Certified Arborists on staff. They know exactly what to look for and how to address any problems that they find.

Every year trees cause millions of dollars in property damage from storms and problems that went unidentified. They also create risks that can put you and your family in danger. That’s why your wise choice of tree services is so important.

The health and safety of your large trees shouldn't be a source of anxiety. If you’re interested in having your trees inspected and their health assured, contact us for a free consultation or give us a call at 833-JTE-TREE.

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