To Remove a Tree or Not
- Written by Glenda Wise
The first thing you will see on the Arbor Day Foundation’s website, www.ardorday.org, is this: “Trees are simply amazing. They clean air and water, slow climate change, ease poverty and hunger, prevent species loss, and feed the human soul. All we need to do is plant and care for them.” After reading such an inspirational statement, it seems a bit counterintuitive to consider removing a tree, but in many cases it is necessary.
Such situations include:
- Trees damaged by storms, insects or disease. Often times a tree trimming company can save the tree by trimming appropriately.
- Storm damage first aid: Recommendations from arborday.org are to remove broken branches still attached to the tree. This can help minimize the risk of decay. They also suggest repairing the torn bark by carefully using a sharp knife to smooth the ragged edges where the bark has been torn away. They advise to use caution and not expose any more of the cambium (greenish inner bark) than necessary. This inner bark is the tree’s lifeline for food and water.
- Insect first aid: Once a tree has been attacked by a tree-boring insect it is hard to know whether or not it will survive. It is best to practice preventative care to avoid vulnerability to infestation. Suggestions are to avoid pruning at inappropriate times and avoid weed eating too closely and nicking the tree trunk. The US Forestry service provides a helpful chart listing the types of trees and insects that can cause damage.
- Disease first aid: Much like the insects, if caught early enough, it may be possible to save the tree. Better Homes and Gardens has a helpful pictorial summary of 10 common tree diseases to help you identify whether or not your tree is suffering from a disease or something else.
- Risk to structures or power lines. Many trees were in place long before some structures, creating a problem as the tree grew. I am sure you have noticed the tree trimming the power companies do to keep the power lines clear as it’s not always the most attractive job, but it gets the job done for them. In order to prevent the unsightly trimming, it is best to have the it done before they do.
Of course, the best way to determine if you need a tree removed or not is to contact a professional, but experts agree that a general rule of thumb is 25-25-50:
- 25% of the branches are damaged
- 25% of the trunk circumference is damaged
- 50% of total tree is damaged
Additionally, you should inspect possible damage to existing structures. Many dwellings have suffered structural/foundation damage from trees being planted too closely to the structure. Hiring a professional tree service company can potentially save you thousands in home repairs later.
What if you’ve come to the conclusion that you need a tree removed, but don’t want to lose the positive effects of a tree? Plant another tree, of course! Your local nursery can assist you in making the right choices for your location. You can also become member of the Arbor Day Foundation for $15 and receive 10 free trees suited for your location.
You can make it a fun, family tree-planting event. Your kids or grandkids will enjoy being outdoors, digging in the dirt while learning about the positive effects of trees in the environment. It’s a win-win for everyone.