Worried About a Leaning Tree?
April 10, 2019
A common concern and question out in the field revolves around leaning trees. Not all leaning trees are an imminent threat to your property, but it is important to keep an eye on your trees, if they look off-kilter, and report any concerns to your arborist.
Why do trees lean?
LIGHT: Some trees naturally lean over time as they seek light. This can be common in urban landscapes, where trees are often too crowded or shaded by houses or nearby buildings. When trees are planted closely together, or too close to structures, they often lean away from those objects in order to grow towards light. In these situations, your tree might be structurally solid. This gradual type of tree leaning is typically offset by the tree’s root system – the root system grows in a way that compensates for the uneven weight distribution.
WIND: Another reason that trees lean naturally is due to wind. For example: a tree planted in a location with consistently strong northern winds, will lean opposite that direction as it grows. But, if your tree is suddenly leaning after a strong storm – there is a cause for concern.
SOIL: The soil can also cause trees to lean. Over-saturated soil or erosion from intense storms can cause damage and instability to tree roots, resulting in soil heaving and leaning. This type of tree leaning should be cause for concern, as the root system is usually destabilized.
PLANTING: Improper planting can cause a tree to lean. If the root ball was installed at an angle, the tree will grow crooked – pretty simple!
When should you worry about a tree leaning?
While not all leaning trees should be cause for concern, there are instances when you need to take action:
- your tree is suddenly leaning after a storm
- soil around the tree is heaving (moved upwards) or cracked
- the tree is leaning over a structure or walkway
- the lean appears to worsen or changes
What can you do about a leaning tree?
If you suspect you have an issue with a leaning tree, it is best to contact a certified arborist for an assessment. They will be able to diagnose issues with your particular tree and recommend a course of action.
Your arborist may recommend fixes like:
- replanting to correct a lean
- staking a young tree in particularly windy area until roots have expanded
- removal of branches to alleviate weight imbalance of the crown
- cabling or bracing
- aeration of heavily saturated soils
- removal of leaning trees dangerous to persons or property
If the spring storms have you worried about a particular leaning tree, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll get a professional on it right away!