How to Tell if a Tree is Healthy… in 60 Seconds

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How to Tell if a Tree is Healthy… in 60 Seconds

Trees add a tremendous amount of value to a property; aesthetically and environmentally, which directly impacts the resale value of a property. Nurturing your tree’s health so that it can live to a mature age is often a challenging task in the Prairie Provinces and can require a little extra finesse.

There are signs we can all look for in a 60 second assessment of tree health that will identify potential problems early on. Early detection of symptoms and stresses can be the difference between some minor changes (like increasing a watering schedule or light pruning) to being forced to do a full removal, which will be more costly–both for the labour involved and the value of your property.

How to Do a Tree Assessment

  1. Start by looking at the overall form of the tree from a distance and work your way closer
  2. Look at the tree starting at the top and moving down and the from the outside-in.
  3. Use the chart below as a reference.  It contains the parts of the tree you should inspect, slowly getting closer and more detailed with possible signs to inspect and the potential causes of defects.

Please note: The chart below is intended only as a rough guideline.  If you need assistance, our ISA Certified arborist crew would love to help.  Contact us.

Don’t forget that your trees need to be watered regularly and take time to grow.  We briefly discuss how much a tree needs watering here.

Troubleshooting Your Tree From the Top Down

Tree PartIssuesPossible CausesPossible Actions
Overall crown/formIs it full and growing straight?
Any tear outs or empty sections?
Any dead parts (aka dieback) on the top/middle/bottom?
Does it receive ample sunlight?
Storm damage or weak structure?
Enough water?
Planting site assessment
Structural pruning
LimbsAny damage or defects?
Lacking needles or leaves?
Dried up/cracking/ brittle?
Conks or fungus?
Growths, eggs, or soot?
Storm damage
Lack of water, salt damage
Decay present
Touching nearby structures or neighbouring trees
Pests or disease present
Corrective pruning
Watering schedule adjustment
Power wash soot off
Prune disease out
Additional care depending on pest/disease
Further assessment
Any visible pests, bumps or spots?
Lack of water, salt damage
Lack of sunlight or nutrients in soil
Watering schedule adjustment
Corrective pruning
Additional care depending on pest
Further assessment
TrunkAny cankers, cavities, or holes?
Bark damaged/discoloured?
Conks or fungus?
Sap oozing? 
Animal or string trimmer/lawn mower
Frost or storm damage
Decay or disease
Trunk cage or protective bags around trunk
Clear obstructions/prevent physical interference
Further assessment required
RootsRoom to grow?
Any damage?
Flat or odd shaped trunk? 
Animal or lawn mower
Objects compacting or obstructing?
Root girdling (bark removed)/unhealthy growth
Possible root pruning if tree is young and girdled (bark removed)
Adding mulch to prevent compaction
Alter traffic pattern (vehicle/pedestrian)
Soil amendment + Top dressing

Talk to us today for help keeping your trees strong and healthy.