6/21/2013 6:00:00 AM Ask the contractor: Keep trees healthy by nipping problems in the bud
Sandy Griffis Yavapai County Contractors Association
Q: Help! Our tree is wobbling and looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. What can we do?-Chad and Barbara, Prescott
A: While a little leaning is normal as not all trees grow straight, significant leaning is a sign of weight distribution issues or severe root issues, and an arborist should be called in immediately to see if the tree can be saved. If you see heaving soil and exposed roots, there is a problem that needs immediate attention. An arborist will more than likely prune the branches to spread out the weight, and will brace the tree with stakes and cable lines to realign it.
Homeowners should inspect their trees every spring and fall, and always after a storm. Move around the trees and look at them from top to bottom, noting any changes in branches, roots, bark and foliage. Do you see any peeling bark, splitting or cuts in the tree limbs, brown wood, brown leaves? Any of these could be signs of a sick tree that may uproot.
Trees should only have one trunk. Multiple trunk trees have extremely weak areas and are likely to split and crack. An arborist can stabilize the tree if there are trunk cracks to extend the life of the tree, but the existing damage cannot be cured.
Construction is also tough on trees. Doing any type of digging near trees will more than likely put the tree into distress.
It is important to know the type of root feeder system your trees have - shallow or deep? Does the root system expand and run out wide? Any damage to a tree's root system will starve the tree of nutrients and create stability issues.
Always be cautious of any type of construction equipment around trees. Any bark scraping will open the tree to disease, and infestation will create health issues. During construction, it is best to set a barricade around your trees. An 8-inch-diameter tree will need a barricade of an 8-foot radius.
Stress in a tree can show up immediately or take years to develop. Watch for damaged bark. Little or no foliage during the new growing season is a danger sign. If you see mushrooms or ants at the base of a tree, that could indicate decay and root rot.
If you see any of these signs when walking around your trees, contact an arborist, who can save your tree or let you know if it is beyond help. An arborist can calculate the risk of the tree falling and can give you options for removal or preventative maintenance.
As a reminder, Yavapai County is holding a free slash drop-off program through June 30. All transfer stations - Black Canyon City, Camp Verde, Congress, Mayer, Paulden, Seligman and Skull Valley - are offering this program to assist residents in developing defensible space around their homes and other structures. Only brush, branches, grass, leaves, yard trimmings will be accepted. No lumber, stumps, roots, cactus, metal or garbage will be allowed. If you have questions, contact the Yavapai County Public Works Department at 771-3183.
Yavapai County Contractors Association (YCCA) is a professional association representing licensed, bonded and insured contractors, suppliers, distributors and business entities. Call YCCA for information on hiring a contractor at 778-0040. Submit questions to email@example.com or through www.ycca.org.