How Do You Perform a Basic Tree Health Inspection?
As you walk to the tree, you form a general opinion of the condition based on leaf color and pattern and dead branches. Start from the ground and work your way up inspecting the tree in the following areas for defects:
Ground: Inspect if any excavation, leveling, digging, or construction has taken place within the drip line of the tree within the last 5 to 7 years that could have damaged roots. Next, inspect where the tree meets the ground for proper root flair. Next, ensure there are no girdling roots and that the root system is reaching out to the drip line. After rainstorms, ensure there are no mushrooms growing under the drip line or around the tree.
Trunk: Inspect the trunk of the tree for multiple stems joined together, called co-dominant stems. If a defect exists, contact a tree service for further inspection and mitigation options. Look for the presence of holes indicating the presence of insects. These holes can be very, very small, almost the size of a pin on some species of trees (primarily spruce trees and conifers). Ensure there are no cavities, cracks, discoloration, or deformities in the bark.
Branches: Make sure there are no broken, dead, or hanging branches. Sometimes, branches can become overextended and require end-weight reduction. This is to help alleviate stress on the branch and keep it from breaking. Inspect to see if there are any discolorations in the bark, cracking, or sap and ooze dripping from wounds.
Leaves: Inspect tree canopy for full leaf with thick density and a good green color. You don't want to see any yellowing of the leaves or veins appearing within them. Trees are not supposed to be yellow or gold during the spring or summer.
Needles: Ensure there has been no major needle drop outside of normal species behavior. (Some trees drop needles every few years.) Make sure there is no major yellowing or browning of the needles. Look for spots or splats of yellow throughout the canopy. Make sure needles are proper length for species and not stunted or smaller than normal
Soil: To ensure the tree has adequate water, go within the drip line of the tree and dig at least 18” down and inspect the quality of soil. You can gauge the amount of moisture in the soil by taking a handful and squeezing it. If it stays clumped together, you should have proper moisture levels. To inspect the quality of soil, add 2 ½ cups of soil into a mason jar, fill with water, and shake. Let settle and inspect the quality of soil.