Your Guide to Inspecting Your Trees

What to look for on the trees on your property

A 5-point checklist of Tree Inspection

Trees are subject to a variety of weather conditions, from the heat of a New York summer to heavy winds, torrential downpours, snow, ice and sleet. In addition to weather, all kinds of events and activities can result in structural that could require tree removal or a technique of stabilizing some trees known as cabling and bracing. Learn to be educated about what to look for on the trees on your property.

# 1 – Dead or Decayed Wood

Look for many broken branches, heavy insect infestation, absence of leafing, and other symptoms that might point to a tree that is degrading rapidly.  Dead or decayed portions of your tree should be removed immediately to reduce the risk of damage to property or even serious injury and death to someone who happens to be too close if the tree falls suddenly. If your trees have many dead branches or large portions of decayed wood in the trunk, call Hill Treekeepers right away.

# 2 – Weak Branch Unions

Take a close at the areas where branches join the trunk or a larger branch. If this union has two or more branches all joining at one point, this could be a defect in in the tree structure, or even lead to water retention in a pocket where the branches come together; retained water logically can make the wood soft to the point of rot.  What you want to see are branches that attach to the trunk with a raised area, known as the branch collar.  A strong branch union has this characteristic thickening.

weak union v strong union

# 3 – Cracking and Cankers

Speaking of cracks, keep an eye out for deep or wide cracking that extends deeper than the bark during your tree inspection. Any cracks that extend through the trunk may indicate the need for hazardous tree removal. Cankers cause the bark to fall off and some weaken the wood fibers in the tree. Both cracks and cankers can be especially dangerous if they occur at the site of another defect, such as a weak union or dead branch.

tree canker

# 4 – Root Issues

Excavation around the base and soil issues can cause serious problems with tree roots, weakening the stability of your tree and reducing the amount of nutrients and water that’s absorbed. Another common problem are overgrown roots that wrap themselves around the tree base, a condition known as “girdling”.  Trees with root issues are extremely prone to falling during a wind or snow storm, and could pose a threat at any time.  Catching some problems early enough may save the tree.

girdling tree roots

Trees can adapt to their environment but that isn’t always a good thing

# 5 – Leaning or Ill-proportioned Trees

Poor pruning, storm damage and strange growth conditions can result in trees that lean or disproportionate trees. Hill Treekeepers specializes in saving trees in this unique situation. Many may be saved through intense treatment and careful maintenance, but some may need to be removed.

lion tailing in trees

This practice is sometimes referred to as “lion tailing”. The trimming to raise the canopy has gone to extremes and left the tree weaker and ill-proportioned


Contact Hill Treekeepers if any of these conditions appear. We can handle hazardous tree removal or help with a creative solution to your problem.

Call (914) 214-7045