Watch out for trees vulnerable to uprooting
By Michael Corcoran, Eden Tree Service, Johnson County LIVING WELL Magazine
As a Kansan, you are familiar with the erratic weather we have in our great state during the spring and summer months. Over the last 30 years, the average wind speed for the Kansas City Metro area is 10.6 miles an hour during these seasons, and the average maximum wind speed is 40 miles per hour. This makes for some sleepless nights worrying about our beautiful mature trees.
Ninety percent of tree roots exist in the top 18 inches of soil, and 90% of those roots exist in the top 4 inches of soil. This means that tree roots are very shallow and the structural root plate that bears the weight of the tree is less than 10% of the tree’s total roots. This can cause a top-heavy tree to be vulnerable to uprooting.
A tree tugs on roots on one side and presses down on roots on the other side, as wind pushes against it. In very wet soil, and if the winds are strong enough, the tree can uproot or fall over. If the tree has other hindering issues, it can uproot in light or no rain and light winds. If you want to prevent one of your beloved trees from uprooting, there are a few other indicators that determine if your tree is at risk. The first thing is to look at the roots in particular. Look for the fruiting structures of decay fungi, such as Ganoderma root rot. Conks, puffballs and mushrooms are also warnings that roots may be shortened or weakened. If decay fungus has been eating away at the tree for years, this can mean that the tree’s root system has been injured and can’t withstand shear and compression pressures of the high winds rolling across the plains.
Health and structure are two different concerns. A tree may be healthy, but also may have some hidden structural problems that could lead to a tree falling or being damaged. The tree’s roots may be fine, but a hollow core or decay in limbs could lead to damage in a heavy storm. When examining a tree, it is good practice to inspect old pruning cuts and sometimes to even drill into the trunk to look for a hollow or decayed core. Procedures such as these should be done by a professional.
Trees missing about 30% of their lower branches are approaching the frightening mark. The fewer low branches it has, the less it is able to withstand storms, because it will be top-heavy and configured badly. Wind pressure will not be distributed well over the length of the tree and this paired with a health concern can lead to uprooting. The trees that normally uproot are usually large ones, which can do a lot of damage, so the risk is very significant. The most common measure for a severely compromised tree is to have it removed. That is often the only way to make sure people and their property are protected, because a tree with several aggravating factors is a ticking time bomb.
Eden Tree Service is an owner-operated company that specializes in the trimming and removal of small to large-sized trees. Michael Corcoran and his team are equipped to handle any size residential or commercial job. We are proud to employ a climber with 35 years of experience who does not wear spikes when he trims your trees. Eden Tree Service offers 24 hour a day, seven days a week emergency services if you find you are in a situation where a tree has uprooted onto your lawn. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your trees.
Eden Tree Service
112 NE 43rd St
Kcmo, MO 64116