Cleanup began Tuesday on the dozens of trees that fell during Monday’s wind storm, which left many homeowners questioning the safety of the trees on or around their property.
Seattle Tree Care owner and certified arborist Peter Gruenwoldt advises checking your trees after a storm.
“The number one thing is look to the top of the tree and then scan all the way to the bottom,” Gruenwoldt said. “Do you notice anything out of place? Do you see a significant lean? Any fresh breakage?”
Gruenwoldt looked at photos of some of the trees that fell in the last 24 hours. One was of a western hemlock went down on the property of a Rainier Valley Childcare, narrowly missing the home.
One look at where it broke off near the roots, Gruenwoldt recognized the tree was far from healthy, even though it had a full canopy of pine needles.
“[The hemlock is] a great species of tree, but it's also susceptible to root rot,” said Gruenwoldt. “And in the urban setting, right next to a sidewalk, fence, or a lawn, that's not a really good place for a large tree like that.”
When it comes to assessing the health of a tree, it's not just what you see, but what you hear as well.
“Creaking is often a sign that two branches are intertwined, it's not necessarily a dangerous situation,” Gruenwoldt said. “What we want people to pay attention to is cracking. If you hear something go crack or thud, in the middle of the night that's when you want to check it out when the wind dies down.”
Problems like root rot can often only be diagnosed by a certified arborist. He recommended hiring one to take a look at the larger trees on your property. They can charge around $150/hour, but it’s likely cheaper than paying for repairs if a tree crashes into your home.