Checking trees crucial for D.C. homes

Checking trees crucial for D.C. homes

The nation’s capital and its surrounding area were pummeled by the winds and rain generated by Hurricane Irene during the summer of 2011, leaving the streets and other properties littered with felled trees and branches.

If you were lucky enough to end up with only a few leaves scattered about, it’s a good time to inspect trees on your property for disease and breakage that could lead to further damage and a possible threat to your property during future storms.

Even in the best of times, D.C.’s District Department of Transportation’s Urban Forestry Administration sets specific rules for the planting and maintenance of trees and plants throughout the city through Law 8-21, the “Tree Space Beautification Regulation Act of 1989.” The UFA plants and maintains thousands of trees on public right of ways and is responsible for preventing any inconvenience they cause.

However, whether you live in Bethesda, Md., or Arlington, Va., you may be responsible for any damage caused to other people’s property by the trees planted on your property. Though a property owner would not be considered responsible if the loss is due to an unforeseeable “act of God,” a property owner is considered responsible for damage caused by failure to maintain a tree.

Because a neighbor always can try to make a case that you failed to maintain your trees, it’s better to be safe than sorry. There could be damage to automobiles or a neighbor’s home that winds up being much more costly.

For trimming or removal of older trees, it simply may be easier to contract with a tree service with state-of-the-art equipment and skilled staff who know how to keep themselves safe and understand how to best trim a tree to keep it healthy and attractive.

Here are some ways homeowners can decide whether they need to bring in a tree service:

  • Mushrooms growing near the base of a tree may indicate inner decay, a sign of possible severe weakness
  • Dark, wet stains running from the fork of a branch may be a sign of cracking and failing branch structure, which could lead to imminent breakage
  • Piles of sawdust at the base of a tree may signal an infestation, usually of insects

Whenever soliciting the services of a contractor, it’s always important to get several estimates and check references and/or reviews. A highly rated tree service should have adequate insurance and bonding, and licensure.


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How to check your trees for storm damage

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Storms can rip trees from the ground and snap limbs. Learn how to safely assess tree damage after a storm. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Julie L., Birmingham, Alabama)
Storms can rip trees from the ground and snap limbs. Learn how to safely assess tree damage after a storm. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Julie L., Birmingham, Alabama)

Did a storm damage trees on your property? Learn how to check your trees for storm damage, and how to tell whether you can save the tree or need to remove it.

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