Is Dead Wood A Threat To Your Property?

July 22, 2015

Dead wood in trees is a natural part of a tree’s existence. In nature, the branches eventually weaken to a state where they can fall and become another micro-habitat in the forest’s ecosystem.  If you’re in a forest, this is great—but in residential areas dead wood can be a serious hazard to you, and your property.

dead branches

In spring and summer, dead wood will remain bare while other branches leaf out.

Dead tree limbs weaken every day as the wood rots and deteriorates. In this severely weakened state, even wind and small animals can cause dead wood to fall. That being said, it’s easy to imagine how summer and winter storms can turn your trees into a serious hazard. Wind, heavy rain, ice, and snow can all cause strain to the dead limbs that they are unable to handle, increasing the likelihood of the branches falling. But dead wood isn’t only a hazard to you and your property; it can also be a risk to the tree as well. Fungus can form on dead wood, and if left unattended it can spread to healthier parts of the tree. Diseases and insects are also attracted to the dead branches, which can have an adverse affect on the tree.

Large fungus structures are good indicators that a branch is dead, or will be dead soon.

Large fungus structures are good indicators that a branch is dead, or will be dead soon.

Luckily, dead wood can be pruned out of a tree any time of the year without affecting the tree’s health. You may notice after a storm, that some of your trees will naturally drop smaller, dead branches. Loss of these small interior branches is normal and not a hazard, however dead branches over one inch in diameter should be pruned out, especially in areas where people frequent, cars are parked, or that are close to homes or other structures.

 

peeling bark

Tree’s do shed old bark, but on healthy branches bark is replaced. Large, bark-less areas of smooth wood are an indication that the branch is dead.

Dead wood is easy to identify in the spring and summer months. While everything else is leafing out, dead wood will remain bare. This is probably the quickest and easiest way for an untrained eye to identify dead wood.  In fall and winter the signs of dead wood may be less obvious and more difficult to identify. Good indicators to keep an eye out for are large fungus, loss of bark, and clinging dead leaves in the fall and winter while other branches are bare. Our Certified Arborists are able to identify dead wood even in the winter months.

If you’re looking to improve the safety of your property while also avoiding insect, disease, and fungal problems, then pruning out dead wood is a must to include in your tree care regimen.