When times are tough, administrators shift priorities, focusing on eliminating tree hazards rather than the long-term health of city trees. Removing them is often the cheapest solution, says Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist at the Tree Care Industry Association.
Andersen says there are things a homeowner can do on his or her own. "With a small, young tree, you can use hand pruners or a good handsaw to trim branches that are overhanging the sidewalk or obscuring a street sign." But, Andersen warns, once a ladder is involved, it’s time for a professional. "We see way too many homeowner accidents and even fatalities. This year alone I’ve heard a few cases of someone holding a ladder and dying when a falling limb strikes them."
Even more effective, Andersen encourages residents to make themselves a squeaky wheel if they see trees in need of better care. "Form a tree committee, present ideas to town council or city hall. If your city has a tree plan and you see decline, it’s time to pressure your public servants." Signs a tree may need professional help include browning, dying, or curling leaves in the canopy. A bedraggled-looking tree may have a root problem or be suffering from damage. A hanging branch is dangerous and warrants a call to city hall.