Fallen Tree Limb

Recognizing Hazardous Trees: What to Look for in Your Yard

Recognizing hazardous trees is crucial for the safety of your property and those around it.

The Silent Danger Lurking in Plain Sight

Trees are an integral part of our landscapes, offering beauty, shade, and a habitat for wildlife. However, they can become a liability if they are not properly cared for or if they become damaged. Recognizing hazardous trees is crucial for the safety of your property and those around it. This article will guide you through identifying potential dangers posed by trees in your yard.

Signs of a Hazardous Tree

Diseases tree limb on hazardous tree

Visible Decay and Fungal Growth

  • Decay: Soft, crumbly wood or cavities where wood is missing can be signs of decay. Decay weakens the structural integrity of a tree, making it more likely to fall.
  • Fungal Growth: The presence of large fungi, like mushrooms, at the base of a tree or on its trunk is an indication of internal rot.

Cracks and Splits

  • Vertical Cracks: Deep cracks running up and down the trunk indicate internal stresses and can lead to a tree splitting.
  • Horizontal Splits: These can compromise the tree’s structure, especially if they occur in conjunction with vertical cracks.

Dead or Hanging Branches

Fallen limbs identify a hazardous tree in Augusta, GA
  • Dead Branches: Look for branches with no leaves in the growing season or branches with bark that’s falling off. These can fall at any time.
  • Hanging Branches: Branches caught in higher branches pose a falling risk.

Leaning Trunk

  • Sudden Leaning: A tree suddenly leaning to one side can indicate root damage or weakening, which can lead to uprooting.
  • Natural Lean: Trees that have grown naturally at a lean are less of a risk, but they should still be monitored.

Weak Joint Connections

  • V-shaped Forks: Forks or branches that form a tight ‘V’ shape have weaker connections than those with a wide angle. These are more prone to breaking.
Rot around the base of a tree in Augusta, GA

Root Problems

  • Exposed Roots: Visible roots at the surface can be a sign of erosion or soil displacement.
  • Root Decay: Mushrooms growing around the roots can indicate root decay, which undermines the tree’s stability.

Damaged Bark and Trunk

  • Missing Bark: Areas where bark is missing or the trunk is gouged can indicate internal decay.
  • Cankers: Sunken, missing, or distorted areas of bark, known as cankers, can indicate disease.

Poor Tree Architecture

Injuries on a tree.
  • Imbalanced Canopy: An unevenly grown canopy can make a tree top-heavy and more prone to falling.
  • Previous Topping: Trees that have been previously topped are more likely to have weak, decay-prone regrowth.

What to Do If You Identify a Hazardous Tree

If you spot any of these signs, it’s important to take action:

  1. Professional Assessment: Contact a certified arborist to evaluate the tree. They can provide a detailed risk assessment and suggest the best course of action.
  2. Regular Maintenance: Ensure trees are regularly pruned and checked for signs of disease or decay.
  3. Immediate Action for High-Risk Trees: If a tree poses an immediate risk, it may need to be removed. Professional tree removal services are equipped to handle this safely.


Rotten tree limb.

Regularly inspecting your trees and being aware of the signs of hazardous conditions can prevent accidents and property damage. Always consult with professional arborists, like those at Empire Tree, to manage the risks and keep your property safe. Remember, the health and safety of your trees contribute significantly to the overall safety of your environment.

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We’d love to take a look at your tree situation and put together a detailed quote. Reach out today using the our online form or directly via phone. 

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