In terms of what steps to take it is as simple as going to the LSU AgCenter’s web site and type in “ Hire an Arborist”. Information will be available to guide you in making an informed decision regarding hiring a licensed professional. My advice is never to be in a rush, get a least 3 estimates, and take the time to call the insuring agent to make sure that the Arborist’s insurance policy will be current during the time the work will be performed. For those who may be considering doing tree work themselves, just be aware that this is serious work and the potential for accidents are very high.
I’d like to provide you with bit of information that you should consider when evaluating the trees in your landscape. These are just a few tips on what to look for when deciding if a tree poses a threat. When I get calls from people telling me that they have a tree on their property that is giving them cause for concern the first question I ask is where is the tree located in terms of its proximity to their house or another significant structure? With trees it’s about location!! Even if a tree is showing serious defects, if it’s located in an area where it poses no threat whatsoever to any structure or a threat to life such as people, pets, other animals, then there is no sense urgency. However, if the opposite is tree and I love and value trees significantly, no tree is worth the threat of it destroying a home, property or causing bodily harm to people or animals.
What are some of the outward signs that are good indicators that a tree or trees may be in a state of decline or that the tree is being or has been structurally weaken? Trees with trunks showing signs of significant decay, as indicated by a hollow or wound that shows rotted wood or is oozing a discolored and or foul smelling liquid. This could be a definite sign of internal rot and decay. Trees that are dropping branches such as is commonly seen in large old pecan trees , white oaks, water oaks , and sweet gum trees, just to name a few. One of the natural characteristics of pecan trees is brittle wood even when young. Sweet gum trees with age tends to develop brittle wood. Water oaks and white oaks as they age has a tendency to develop internal rots, hollows, and are prone to dropping large limbs unexpectedly or uproot completely. Trees that has large limbs that extends over the roof of a house need to monitored closely especially as a hurricane or storm approaches, it may even be a good idea to evacuate the structure completely or at least an isolated area of the house that would be affected if a limb broke during a storm. Consideration to having the tree prune by a licensed professional may be in order. Sometimes it’s not necessary to remove the entire tree.
Finally, to me it’s just common sense and good judgment to periodically evaluate trees growing on our own home grounds , but additionally as Master Gardeners who are in a position to enlighten others who may not have access to the information like we do. So if you’re visiting a relative, friend or neighbor and you notice a tree that could be a potential threat , point it out , most people will be appreciative. Whether or not someone takes our advice or not, if we’ve done our part , then we’ve done our best to educate someone else in one area of horticulture. After all as a Master Gardener that is where you should get your greatest reward. Thanks for all that you do in assisting the LSU AgCenter in the dissemination of research based information.
Gerald P. Roberts