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As the saying goes, “what grows up must come down”… or something like that. The point is, if you have trees on your property, you’ll eventually face the possibility that one of them will die and need to be cut down. Removing trees when their time has come can protect your property, keep your insurance premiums manageable, and avoid legal trouble – courts may sometimes order you to pay damages if you were negligent in not removing a dangerous tree. So to avoid all of that trouble and to be smart homeowners and good neighbors, let’s look at the warning signs of a dangerous tree.

Trunk cavity

A hole in the tree trunk may not necessarily mean anything bad, if the wood around it is sound and strong. But deep holes can act as weak spots through which animals or parasites can get. If your tree has a hole in it and you’re not sure how bad it is, you’d want to consult with a tree care professional.


These are basically injuries or scars on the surface of the bark. They can be caused by tools and yard equipment, by fungus, insects, chemicals, and other factors. Cankers, as well as deep cracks in thick bark, can lead to a tree being more fragile there and increasing the likelihood of a break. They’re something to consider asking a professional about.

Branches falling off

Trees shed branches as a survival technique when they are not getting enough nutrients so falling branches are a sign of a tree that may be on its way to dying. Even if it survives, the branches themselves will often pose a safety risk. If the rest of the tree is healthy, a professional should still prune off whatever branches are in danger of falling.

Leaning over

If a tree grew naturally with a lean in the trunk, that is not a sign of trouble. But if a tree starts listing over 15 degrees or more from how it used to stand, that could be a sign of damage to the root system, diminishing the tree’s stability and increasing the risk of falling over later. Leaning is one of the loudest warning signs a tree can give, and it even tells you the likely direction it will fall in.

Unusual leaf-dropping pattern

Different trees drop their leaves in different patterns – inner branches first, outer branches first, top down, etc. You can find out what your tree is and what pattern it follows, and if it drops leaves in the wrong way, or at the wrong season, that can be a sign that the roots aren’t getting enough water and nutrients, and the tree is in danger of dying.

Root rot

Since they’re underground it’s not like you can inspect the roots regularly, but if you see signs that might point to rotting roots, you should call a tree care specialist. Such signs may include excessive fungus growth, or simply digging and finding soft roots where they should be hard and strong.

Constricted branch growth

Another sign that the tree is not strong is that it grows its branches in tight V-shapes, whereas a healthy tree can spread out more. Trees that grow in the tight pattern are at great risk of falling over in a storm.If you’re in Warren County of Frederick County, VA and have concerns about trees on your property, JC Tree Care in Front Royal has 20 years of experience in tree services and can help you take care of a small problem before it becomes a big one. Call us for a free estimate at 540-636-4182 or get in touch on our website.