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You’ve probably seen the iconic image of a tree falling with a lumberjack shouting, “Timber!” That’s great in the forest, but not when the tree is near your home. If any of the trees on your property are showing risks of falling and could compromise your property or hurt individuals in the process, you should take action immediately.

There are telltale signs that something is wrong with your tree, making it a big risk when there is a storm. Warning signs include:

Dead branches

When tree branches die and fall off, the tree may be trying to make itself smaller in order to have fewer branches and leaves to feed. This could be the symptom of root rot, which renders a tree unable to nourish all of its branches and leaves. Dead and falling branches are dangerous, however, especially when there is a strong wind. They should be cut before they hurt someone or damage the house when they fall.

Hole in the trunk

Teeth get cavities, and so do trees. These holes result from self-pruning and may result in decay within the tree. When the cavity gets bigger, it makes the tree trunk so weak that it cannot sustain its own branches. Strong winds may cause the tree to fall into the house or the people below.

Decaying roots

When the roots of a tree become rotten, a tree may be on its way out. However, you may not be able to detect the decay because the roots are under the soil. Look for signs of rotting roots such as dead branches, falling leaves, and mushrooms growing around the base. A tree with rotten roots will be unstable and may fall at any moment, especially when there is a strong wind.

Missing inside leaves

Leaves should fall from the outside in—not the other way around. When a tree is missing the leaves closest to the trunk, the tree roots may be compromised, and your tree may be unstable.

When you see signs that the trees in your yard are at risk for falling, do not wait for strong winds to topple them. Ask for professional help to take down the affected trees before they hurt people or property.