Mar 26, 2018

Types of Tree Defects

People often forget that trees are living organisms, just as we are. Humans rely on vital systems to maintain health and vibrancy: if the cardiovascular, neurological, or immune system stops working correctly, major health issues can develop. The same goes for trees. Proper maintenance and due diligence on the part of the property owner is essential to maintaining the health and longevity of a tree. At 404-CUT-TREE, we provide high quality residential and commercial tree care services in Atlanta, Sandy Springs, Marietta, Dunwoody and surrounding neighborhoods. We work hard to ensure that our customers have safe, healthy, beautiful trees to enjoy all year long, and we want to help do the same for you. Here are a few tips for spotting common tree defects, so you can decide if the problem is solvable or if you need to resort to a tree removal.


Cracks can be a signal that the sapwood, cambium, and bark layers are no longer functioning well together. Cracks can point to many potential issues, such as plant diseases, parasitic insect infestations, or rapid deterioration following storm damage.

Leaning Trunks

A tree most often leans because of root issues. Leaning can indicate shifting soil conditions, heavy branches, or a weakened trunk. Sometimes trees will begin to lean in a desperate attempt to reach more sunlight. In these cases, removing or pruning another tree that is blocking your leaning tree’s energy source may be enough to rectify the problem. It’s important to note that if your tree is leaning more than 5 degrees, there’s a greater chance that the lean will continue to become worse and the tree may eventually need to be removed to avoid property damage or personal injury. However, if leaning is detected early enough, the root conditions might be remedied before further trouble develops.


A decaying tree usually has been infested with fungi. Various forms of mildew, mushrooms, and rot can quickly spread, hollowing out the core of the tree. As rain water accumulates in the interior of the tree, and the fungi continues to proliferate, the decay worsens until the tree eventually dies. This can be one of the most dangerous tree issues to have, because the decay can be entirely hidden inside the trunk, leaving homeowners unaware that their thirty-foot Southern Live Oak is a hailstorm away from collapsing onto their roof.

Girdling Roots

Girdling is a phenomenon that occurs when a tree’s roots are kept from spreading out normally, and instead are forced to grow up towards the soil, where they begin to encircle or cut into the trunk. It most often occurs because of mishandling during the planting process. If the sapling is placed too deeply in the soil, or if the hole is too small, then the roots will be starved of oxygen and water and the root system will contort itself unnaturally to receive what it needs. Unfortunately, the result can be an undernourished tree that is unstable in the ground, which can pose a safety hazard if not removed.

How Can Inspections and Tree Risk Assessments Help?

While some of these prominent tree defects will provide homeowners and businesses with plenty of warning signs, there are many instances where the issue will remain invisible to the untrained eye. Because they are easy to miss, situations like tree hollowing and root girdling can go untreated for a long period of time, leaving immediate removal as the only safe solution when they are discovered. Routine inspections and the occasional tree risk assessment can help provide detailed information for property owners, so they can undertake maintenance and preventative measures before their tree troubles become irreparable.

Are You Looking for a Certified Arborist in Atlanta, GA? Call 404-CUT-TREE Today

Is it time for your next tree risk assessment, inspection, pruning, or tree removal? Then call the certified arborists and tree service specialists at 404-CUT-TREE. Our team of experts is proud to serve home and business owners in Atlanta, Alpharetta, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Marietta, Decatur, and other nearby metro area communities. Call today for more information or to schedule a convenient appointment with an Atlanta arborist near you.