Extreme weather conditions can have a detrimental effect on trees, we've all seen or heard in the news about damage to persons or property in extreme weather conditions from tree related failure in Southampton or some other part of Hampshire, but are there any precautions you can take to avoid a scene like this picture?

The most obvious answer is "Have your trees inspected on a regular basis by a suitably qualified and experienced arborist" ideally this initial inspection/survey should be repeated on a 2-3 year basis or following severe storms.

This will involve a site visit to inspect your tree or trees, followed with a written report detailing the findings of the inspection. As well as peace of mind and good practice having trees inspected regularly, can be very useful evidence in a court of law, if you are ever unfortunate enough to need to prove responsible tree management following and accident of some description.

There are however some obvious signs that your tree or trees are struggling that should not be ignored and whilst the list below is not exhaustive, it is a useful reference for the laymen. 

Root plate movement can occur in windy conditions and as roots decay for example. The most obvious signs that the tree root-plate has become unstable is soil cracking or lifting such as the picture below shows:

Sparse or declining Canopy - A tree with a sparse or declining canopy is a strong external indicator that something is seriously wrong! it could indicate root problems or stem decay problems affecting functional cells. Either way if you notice your tree has much fewer leaves than considered normal, you should seek expert advice as soon as you can.

Fungal Brackets - If you find a fungal bracket on or near your tree you should seek professional advice. Many fungal brackets are deadwood saprophytes, meaning they do not degrade live wood and are not a threat to the living parts of the tree. However there are also lots of known fungal pathogens that do cause decay and can render the tree liable to wind-throw in windy conditions or even on a flat calm day!!  

Tight Forks- Probably not the easiest one to spot for the laymen, however some are very obvious!

A tight fork can be a structural weakness if the union is poorly formed. The two pictures below show a typical poorly formed union that is high risk of failure in windy conditions.

Download the forestry commission useful document for hazard Assessment in trees, by clicking on this link  Whilst this guide points out the obvious to look for, professional advice is the best form of management that we can recommend to any home or owner or land manager. Professional advice will help you make informed management decisions that could prevent injury or damage to property as a result of tree failiure.

Mark Hines ND Arb

DGS Trees