5 On Your Side

Check your trees: It's cheaper to remove your tree than to have Mother Nature do it for you

Posted June 20, 2019 5:49 p.m. EDT
Updated June 20, 2019 6:57 p.m. EDT

— Tree after tree smashing homes, power lines and cars. It happens often with storms, not just hurricanes.

While taking down trees is expensive – potentially thousands of dollars depending on the trees’ size and location – many homeowners have found after a storm that the cost is usually less than the damage a tree can do when it falls.

"Trees come down during storms all the time," said Rob Willis, owner of Willis Treescape.

Willis says it can be predicted beforehand, if you know what to look for.

"Just because a tree has green leaves doesn't mean it's safe," Willis said.

He pointed out a trouble spot on a large, leafy tree that most people would miss.


Hidden by a bush behind the tree, Willis pointed out a hole, which he said is an indication the tree is hollow.

Another way to determine health is by tapping the tree with your hand or a mallet and listen for a difference in sound.

Listen for a difference in sound.

Other signs to look for:

  • Swelling


  • Tree base. Willis says a tree's base is the critical zone, it needs to breathe. Too much mulch, ivy, or other plants can smother the roots.

Tree base

  • Fungus


  • Twist. The twist on the tree is a sign of a weak spot.


Here's what you might find when the observation and investigation are all done. Roughly a 4-inch ring of wood and what resembles sawdust.

Hollow tree

It's all that left in one of the hollow trees.

"This is right at the point where the tree has served its purpose," Willis said. "It needs to be removed."