Justin White, Landscaping Course | Pre-Winter Trees Assessment – Santa Cruz Sentinel


The leaves change color, the temperature drops, and the sun sets earlier. What this means for your landscaping will depend on the elements and types of plants that make up your space, but if you have trees on your property, now is a great time to do a quick inspection.

With how busy life can be and our attention increasingly focused on our phones, now is a good time of year to look up and assess your trees. This initial assessment does not need to be done by an arborist, it can consist of walking around your property and carefully examining your trees.

Many branch failures and even some tree failures have clear indications before the actual event occurs. (Contribution)

Many branch failures and even some tree failures have clear indications before the actual event occurs. Some branches may be cracked or hanging in the canopy, while trees may show ground heaving or cracks in the trunk. Here’s a quick checklist to use when considering your property.

Make sure you spend more time on the trees that overlook your house or car.

• Are there any hanging branches or branches that appear dead?
• Are there any visible cracks in the tree or branches? (Tip: use binoculars to see better!)
• Are there areas around your trees where the ground seems to heave or lift?
• Are there any newly exposed roots that have already been buried or areas of soil erosion that could destabilize the tree’s root system?
• Are there any trees that appear to be dead?
• Are there any trees that historically have fallen branches in winter?
• Are there any trees that seem to lean or tilt more than usual?
• Are there any trees whose branches touch a structure or a house?
• Are there areas of rotten wood or cavities on the tree?
• Are there a large number of fungi or fungi growing at the foot of the tree?
• Is there a black oily substance oozing from the tree or a new large amount of sap drop?

Depending on your findings, it may be time to hire a tree service company or an ISA certified arborist. The purpose of this self-assessment is to generate a comprehensive understanding of the safe state of your trees and to see if it is time to call in the professionals. It is very important to consider what the potential damage could be. For example: if a tree is in the middle of a large field, a branch failure might not be a problem, but if the tree is hanging over your house, driveway, or from your driveway, it may be helpful to call a professional if you suspect a potential problem.

Hope this helps everyone take a break and assess the trees on your property. I think we tend to take trees and their value for granted, have you ever driven to an intersection after removing a big tree? The felling of trees generally has a negative impact on the environment. When you go out to look at your trees, take the time to appreciate their beauty!

Justin White is the CEO of K&D Landscaping, which is headquartered in Watsonville, California, and has received the “Company of the Year 2020” award by the Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce. White is also the current president of the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) local on the Central Coast. He is involved in several non-profit organizations in the community. For more information on landscaping, exterior and garden needs, contact K&D Landscaping at kndlandscaping.com.


Terri S. Tomasini