How to tell which trees are at risk for falling during severe weather

A couple of large trees come down on Glade Drive near Soapstone Drive in Reston. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

WASHINGTON — When preparing for severe weather, downed trees can cause serious damage, but there are a few steps you can take in advance to make sure trees on your property aren’t a safety hazard.

Lou Meyer, an arborist with the Davey Tree Expert Company, says it’s not about the age of the tree, but how secure its root system is, which means any tree could be at risk of toppling over.

“It depends on how much rainfall we get and where the tree is situated and what kind of health the tree is in prior to the rainfall,” Meyer said.

Look out for signs like wilted trees or unnatural curling, yellow leaves or pooling water around trees. These are signs a tree may be vulnerable to high winds and heavy rain.

One of the main signs a tree on your property may be at risk of toppling over — mushrooms at the base of a tree.

“This could be a clear sign of some inner problems signaling a tree’s structural integrity could be compromised,” Meyer said.

Trees in and around new construction or ongoing construction zones where brush has recently been cleared could also mean trees not typically exposed to the elements could be vulnerable.

If you do call in an expert in Maryland, make sure they are an International Society Arboriculture, or an ISA, Certified Arborist and a licensed Maryland tree expert.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up