Hazards you may not see
Ryan Summerlin November 19, 2011
A recent column was all about damage to trees following the heavy snowfall just two days before.
Since then, we’ve had more snow and we need to keep the conversation going about one point we made, namely that horizontal cracks that are often not easily visible in tree limbs can be a hazard in your yard.
Here’s what you need to know:
If you have mature deciduous trees in your yard, you need to keep reading. Young trees typically do not sustain this kind of damage.
What you should be concerned about are cracks. The limb may remain attached to the trunk of the tree, but it may have split all the way during recent storms. By climbing on a ladder, you may be able to find the damage that was not clearly visible from the ground.
One tell-tale sign that a tree limb has cracked, is that the limb bends down from the snow and doesn’t pop back up to its original position. Often cracked limbs will rest on a limb below.
Will the branch live or die?
Most cracked branches will continue to live. In spite of the cracks, nutrients will still move through the branch to keep offshoot branches and leaves alive. The tree will try to callous over the wound to “heal,” but the bark will not grow back together and the limb will never return to its previous state.
Like Humpty Dumpty, it can’t be made whole again, and that is the problem.
From this point forward, a cracked limb will remain a hazard due to untreatable structural weakness. Future snow loads and/or wind can cause it to break at any time. If that does not happen, continuing growth will add more weight to the limb and create stress to the breaking point.
If you have large deciduous trees, consider having them inspected to determine whether you have hazard limbs in your yard. A falling limb from a mature tree is a serious threat to the safety of people and property. Play it safe, have a professional inspect your trees and remove cracked limbs before they become a liability.
Courtesy Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company based in Silverthorne that is a member. You may contact them at