Should You Repair Or Remove An Unstable Tree?

17 May 2023
 Categories: , Blog


Beautiful landscape trees can quickly become dangerous if they are no longer stable. Trees depend upon their roots to stabilize them, which means they can become a hazard if the roots are damaged, diseased, or simply not sufficient for the size of the tree. 

Signs of Stability Issues

A tree that is leaning in one direction is by far the most obvious sign of instability, but it is not the only one. The most alarming leans are those that are newly developed or those that are becoming worse over time, but any extreme lean means you should have the tree inspected to ensure it is stable.

A split trunk is another sign of instability, as the tree will be more prone to splitting apart completely in a storm or under its own weight. Trees that move easily in the ground when pushed against, or those that show signs of disturbed soil around the trunk following high winds, may also be unstable. Further, signs of disease such as fungal growth from the trunk or excessive leaf loss may also be prone to falling over.

Stabilization Options

The tree may be savable depending on several factors. Generally, it's easier to successfully stabilize younger or smaller trees compared to large, mature ones. Trees that need to be stabilized must also be healthy, with no severe disease or pest issues that could contribute to the stability issues.

Stabilization often involves staking or cabling the tree so that the root system has extra support to keep the tree upright. Forked trunks may also be bolted together to minimize the chances of splitting. Finally, heavy pruning is often done in the canopy to remove excess weight so that the root system is better able to support the tree upright. 

When to Remove

Sometimes the safest course of action is to remove the tree. Trees showing signs of extensive insect damage, disease, or root rot are best removed to both guard against the tree falling down and to prevent the spread of the problem to other trees. Overly large trees, trees growing closely to a structure, and those that can't be easily stabilized are also good candidates for removal.

A professional with the right training and equipment should remove any unstable trees, as they can behave erratically and fall in unexpected ways during removal. They will use a combination of cabling, professional climbers, and cranes to safely take the tree down.

Contact a professional tree removal service, such as Alaska Hydro Ax Land Clearing, if you have concerns about the stability of any trees on your property.