3 Signs A Poorly Rooted Tree Is A Fall Hazard

Posted on: 23 May 2023

A healthy-looking tree may be harboring a hazardous problem underground — weak, shallow roots that can't support it properly. Poorly rooted trees pose a fall hazard and they may need to be removed.

1. Newly Developed Lean

A tree that has had a natural lean its whole life is less of a concern than one that has only recently begun to lean in one direction. A newly developed lean indicates that there is a problem with the root system. The issue could be root death, which can be a result of moisture issues or disease. Dying roots aren't able to anchor the tree very well, and it doesn't take much force to lead to a lean.

Leans often first appear after high winds, but sometimes a tree will simply begin leaning because the weight of the crown has become too much for a shrinking root system. 

2. Overturned Soil After Wind

A healthy, well-rooted tree will sway in response to high winds, and the movement can seem quite extreme. Yet, if the tree is properly rooted the swaying won't cause any noticeable movement of the root system. Trees with overly shallow root systems or roots affected by disease will experience root movement.

You will be able to see the results of root movement on the soil surrounding the tree trunk. The ground may look churned up and disturbed, or there may even be a newly developed gap between the soil and the base of the trees. Any signs of churned soil following high winds mean the tree needs to be evaluated to see if it is still safely rooted.

3. Root Habit of the Species

Some trees simply put down more shallow roots than others. Oak and ash trees are two common trees that tend to root more shallowly than others, particularly in areas where there is a lot of surface moisture and no need to put down deep roots. A tree may also root shallowly if the soil is overly compact or if bedrock near the surface doesn't allow for deeper rooting.

Keep in mind that visible surface roots don't always indicate shallow rooting, as a tree can produce both deep roots and surface roots. If you suspect a tree has a shallow root system, an inspection by a tree service is necessary to determine if the roots are shallow enough to create a fall hazard.

Contact a local tree removal service such as J&L Tree Service Inc. if there is any chance that a poorly rooted tree may fall on your property.