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TreePro Professional Tree Care Blog

Damage from fire affects trees in several ways including damage to the bark, damage to the cambium layer located beneath the outer bark, and inner bark which is comprised of the inactive phloem and the active phloem. Charring of the cambium and phloem will result in stress and girdling of the tree depending on the amount of tree circumference affected.

Trees with thicker bark are more likely to survive fire damage. Young oak trees smaller than 12 inches in diameter have thinner bark than mature trees and will suffer more than older trees with thicker bark. One of the most important ways to determine a tree’s survivability is whether the interior cambium, or tissue directly beneath the bark, has been killed. If the bark has been cracked or separated from the wood, the cambium is almost certainly dead. The degree of damage is determined by cutting away a portion of the bark.

Branches may also be burned and weakened by fire damage and may be more likely to fail from the loss of structural integrity. If the fire burned deeply into the trunk, the tree will be unstable and survival is unlikely.

Leaves on trees and needles on conifers may be scorched. Damaged foliage will result in stress which will increase the likelihood of beetle infestation. Bark beetles such as fir engraver beetles affect fir trees, oak bark beetles or ambrosia beetles affect oak and buckeye trees.

It is important to check for soil damage in addition to the visual assessment to bark and foliage to determine the survivability of fire damaged trees. Roots may also be damaged by the high temperature of fires especially if the earth has been heated to the extent that the soil is cracked or “glazed” in appearance. This soil damage can result in poor water infiltration preventing adequate uptake of water and nutrients leading to stress or death of the tree.

Call TreePro for prompt service to assess your fire damaged trees. A Certified Arborist will provide a free written estimate to identify and mitigate tree hazards.

When fire burns trees it can damage the structure of the tree and create a hazard. The following are five ways that trees may fail after damage from fire.

  1. Trunk failure from weakly attached multiple trunks. Trees with “V” shaped co-dominant or multiple trunks are inherently more likely to fail than trees with a single trunk and horizontally attached limbs. Coast live oaks often have multiple trunks. These stress areas may fail when wind and heat associated with fire damage.
  2. Trunk failures caused by interior damage to heart wood by fire through tree cavities. Hollow areas especially near the lower trunk act as an entry point for fire. Fire can burn through a cavity into the interior of the tree and burn upwards like fire in chimney. Failure of the trunk may occur if the damage is severe.
  3. Trunk failure from stump re-growth. When trees are removed and the stumps are not ground out some species will grow several new trunks around the outer area of the tree. Also known as fairy rings in redwood forests, this type of growth pattern is also common in bay trees. The old stump in the center of the tree trunks will dry out and easily burn during a fire. As the old stump burns it weakens the surrounding new trunks and may cause multiple trunk failures.
  4. Limb failure from weakly attached branches or decay cavities. If fire moves into the canopy of the tree it can cause limb failures in areas with “V” shaped attachments or branches with cavities.
  5. Tree failure from root damage. If fire is hot enough it can damage tree roots. While most people think trees have a large tap root and roots that extend deep into the soil most tree roots are located within the top 12 inches of the soil. A young oak tree sends a very deep root initially but for most trees including oaks the roots extend laterally and “anchor” roots extend in an oblique direction to provide additional stability to the tree. Trees in high temperature burn areas such as next to structures or where multiple trees have burned may have root damage to the extent that the trees are no longer structurally sound. A root crown or lateral root excavation may be needed to inspect roots of high value trees.

Contact TreePro for tree assessments for fire damaged trees. A Certified Arborist will inspect the trees and if necessary provide a free estimate for pruning or removing fire affected trees.

Ron Wallace, Owner TreePro Certified Arborist #WE 0979A

TreePro has added staff and equipment to ensure that we have the resources available to help our clients in this time of crisis. Contact TreePro and a Certified Arborist will inspect your trees promptly and provide a free written estimate to mitigate hazards associated with fire damaged trees.

Ron Wallace, Owner TreePro Certified Arborist #WE 0979A

  1. Fallen trees are unstable and hazardous. When a tree falls there are heavy limbs and trunks under tension. Trying to move or cut the branches can cause the tree to shift and cause further damage or injury. Calling a reputable tree service with Accreditation from the Tree Care Industry is your best assurance of removing the tree without causing further damage to your home or injuring yourself.
  2. Pine Tree FailureBe careful of potential power lines knocked down by a tree failure. Often falling trees cause damage to the high voltage lines which cause major power outages and also the line that runs to your home. In addition, cable and phone lines may become energized with high voltage from a downed PG and E line. Stay away from power lines and contact PG and E for assistance.
  3. Be careful of slippery roof surfaces. If a tree falls on your home or structure the first impulse is get on the roof and determine the damage and try to stop water damage. A wet roof during a windstorm with slippery tree debris is the wrong place to be. TreePro responds to storm emergencies with tarps and trained professionals with the proper safety equipment to remove the tree from the roof and tarp the area to prevent water damage.
  4. It’s a good idea to check with both your insurance agent to review your policy limits and coverages before a problem occurs." change to " It’s a good idea to check with both your homeowners and auto insurance agents to review your policy limits and coverages before a problem occurs.
  5. Call a reputable Tree Company to help with a tree emergency. Attempting to remove a fallen tree during a storm Pine Tree Failure 2requires extensive training and experience. Following a storm there are unscrupulous and uninsured companies that may have a good sales pitch but leave you with more problems from additional damage.

TreePro has been the local professional choice for tree care since 1990. We are Accredited by the Tree Care Industry Association. We carry $1 million in liability and worker’s compensation for your protection. We also have the highest ratings of any tree company with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, Five Star Rating from Yelp and a Super Service Award from Angie’s List.

Even before a tree is planted a number of factors will determine how safe the tree will be when it matures. The variety of the tree, the growing conditions at the nursery, the method of planting and early pruning all make the difference between a safe tree to enjoy for generations or a hazardous tree doomed to fail.

pruning 1While any tree has the potential to fail; avoid trees that are structurally weak and prone to failure. Some trees are more likely to be brittle and drop branches, especially during storms with high winds. These include willows, eucalyptus, poplars, Monterey pines, Italian stone pines, douglas firs, and Monterey cypress trees.

Trees which often have trunk failure (splitting of the trunk) include several native trees and some ornamental species. Native trees subject to trunk failure include coastal live oaks, black oaks, firs, and to a lesser degree redwood trees. Introduced trees subject to trunk failure include eucalyptus, locusts, ash varieties, Bradford pears, poplars, liquidambers, and some maple varieties. While some of these trees should not be planted in urban areas many can be pruned or repaired to overcome structural defects.

Trees subject to root crown failure where the entire tree falls over include eucalyptus, Leyland cypress, Douglas firs, Monterey pines, bay laurels, and poplar trees. To a lesser degree native oaks may have root crown failure; especially where roots have been damaged by construction, compaction, or summer watering.

Early growing conditions and planting technique also play a large in the future safety of a young tree. Nursery grown trees are often “tipped back” from the top and lower branches are removed. This makes for uninform trees that are easy to transport, but it creates potential problems for the young tree. Cutting the top of the tree causes several branches to grow from a single area and these co-dominant leaders are forced to compete for stability and few will succeed. Often the trunk failure occurs years in the future when the tree is an integral part of the landscape. It’s important to choose a tree which has not been tipped back, but has a single central leader with good spacing of the branches growing along the trunk. The branches should be horizontally attached, extending perpendicular to the trunk, rather than a high “V” shape attachment. Branches that connect to the trunk with a “V” shape are prone to failure.

Lower branches growing on the trunk should not be pruned off because they add diameter to the trunk. A trunk with good caliper willphotos 228 be stronger than a tall thin trunk. Avoid trees with circling or girlding roots. If a tree is left too long in a container the roots begin to encircle the pot. When planted, the roots continue to circle around the base of the tree and fail to extend outward establishing the strong buttress roots that prevent failure. Poor root development is one of the major reasons for tree failure at the root crown.

Bodega Bay Cypress Emergency 1To help a tree develop good root structure it should be planted in a hole twice the diameter of the growing container. In clay or poor soils the hole can be even bigger. The depth of the hole should match the container depth. Plant the base of the tree slightly above ground level. Trees planted too deeply will develop root decay.

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) recommends that trees should not be staked at planting time if possible. Research has shown that un-staked trees develop stronger trunks than trees that are planted with stakes. If the tree is unable to stand without staking it should be staked as low as possible from opposite sides with approved materials that will not girdle the trunk or damage the bark. For more information on planting and staking trees, a pamphlet is available from the UC Cooperative Extension Office in Santa Rosa.

Early pruning of the tree will also affect its safety. Regular pruning establishes good structure. Waiting until a tree is mature and deciding to reduce the canopy by topping or over-pruning is dangerous. Topping a tree creates decay and weakly attached branches when the tree re-grows. Topped trees also develop thick canopies that can cause the tree to blow over. Over-pruning may also cause stress and lead to decline or death. The ISA recommends contacting a Certified Arborist for pruning trees. The definitive guide to pruning including information on correctly training young trees is the “ISA Pruning Guidelines” available from the ISA.

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Most people who haven’t tried their hand at gardening simply do not understand what an enjoyable activity and stress reliever it can be. Taking some time for yourself in order to care for another living being that doesn’t really demand that much attention can be very satisfactory. However, you might be limited to certain low or medium maintenance plants. The truth is that, for example, trees are much harder to take care of. It is not as simple as buying a fertilizer or an insecticide and spraying it on. Trees are plants that grow to live many more years, and it isn’t only their size that makes things complicated.

Each kind of tree needs a different set of nutrients and a different amount of water, and the environment around it will affect how it grows and develops. It is also easy for a tree to get infested with some kind of plague, something you want to try to avoid or catch early on. In this kind of cases, it is important for you to call professionals who can help you determine how bad the situation is and the kind of measures that can be taken.

Aside from the fact that they are beautiful living beings, it is important for you to consider that a tree can also pose a risk easily if it is not well taken care of. Especially when talking about the bigger kind of trees, it is easy to forget that branches will fall and even the whole tree could come down if it dries out or has a severe infestation.

This is why, if you have trees in your garden, around the area of your house, your job, or in spaces you frequent, you want to pay special attention and call a professional immediately if in doubt. The TreePro Professional Tree Care can also help you understand more about tree health, the kind of situations where you would need to take more drastic measures such as removals with cranes, and even give you information on replacement trees. They grow their own native trees and can easily provide you with as many as you need if you want to replace a tree. Their services are guaranteed to leave any customer satisfied, so don’t hesitate to call them and find out everything they can do to help you keep your trees in good health and your areas safe.