Ready or not, fall is here. Sept. 22 was officially the Autumnal Equinox, and in Puget Sound that comes with notoriously wet and windy weather.
After a drought and heatwave-filled summer, local arborists say it's a good time to assess the health of the trees surrounding your home.
The vibrant red, orange and gold leaves are a highlight of the fall, but Roy Hisler, a District Manager for The Davey Tree Expert Company in Redmond, says trees may be changing their colors too soon.
"One thing we were taught in tree risk assessment is, there's no such thing as a safe tree," Hisler said.
In the fall, trees lose their leaves because they stop producing the sugar and starches that trees need to grow.
"You can go out and see where plants are losing their leaves early, and you can tell that they're the plants that are having issues," Hisler said.
Leaves will often change color or drop off of stressed trees earlier than normal. It's a more common phenomenon this year after a months-long drought and record high temperatures, according to Hisler. Leaves shouldn't be brown, or completely yellow just yet.
Extreme heat also lead to more trees losing their branches.
"When it gets really hot, the wood gets really soft, we get branch failure in the summer and there's no wind or anything," Hisler said. "Cottonwoods, sometimes Maples, the softer wood trees tend to have that during the summer."
Trees that were sunburned in extreme temperatures can also impact a tree's overall health. Fried branches interrupt the photosynthesis process, Hisler said, and roots could have sustained damage in the drought. However, as long as the discoloration doesn't affect more than 20% of the tree, it should rebound.
Ivy may also obscure tree rot, and large conk mushrooms tend to appear around the base of trees, which indicates growth on decayed wood.
Ultimately, Hisler suggests having a certified arborist come assess your trees for potential complications they could have sustained over the summer before wet, windy weather sets in.