Do you wonder if that large oak is structurally sound?  Read our tree risk assessment fact sheet below to learn more about how we calculate risk for trees, and some tools we use to measure internal decay….

Tree Risk Assessment For Your Property

Valuable Urban Forest

Trees are a way of life here inAtlanta. There are many benefits of having trees where we live, work, and play, especially for homeowners. Urban trees offer the following advantages:

  • Increase property values
  • Save on energy bills
  • Improve soil, air, and water quality
  • Help homes sell faster
  • Enhance social interaction
  • Make people healthier

When Trees Become Unsafe

A tree is unsafe when it has a defect or condition that threatens a target, such as people, places, and property.

Trees are remarkable in how they are structured and in how they work. Unable to escape from dangers and threats, they literally stand their ground against the many forces of nature, such as weather and pests. In addition, urban trees are under constant assault from human-related pressures. Construction, automobiles, and utility-line clearance are just a few examples.

For the homeowner, it is vital to keep these things in mind because the most important point is this—all trees will eventually fail and die. The best we can ever hope is to prolong a tree’s health, safety, and useful life. Knowing this will help homeowners make reasonable and effective decisions that result in safer trees for people.

What Should I Do?

The first step toward safer trees is to take responsibility. Urban trees are like any other valuable asset. Better management increases the returns and minimizes the risks. That means being proactive throughout the life of your tree, or at least as long as you have ownership. There are three simple rules toward having safer trees—systematic inspection, treating problems quickly, and removing a tree when its risks outweigh its value.

Look for a certified arborist to perform a tree risk assessment Arborist: A professional with the knowledge, skills, and training to care for individual trees.


A risk assessment involves a two step process of a visual inspection of the tree. The first stage is the visual inspection of the tree for defect symptoms and vitality. If problems are suspected, on the basis of symptoms a thorough examination is carried out. If a defect is confirmed it is measured and the strength of the remaining part of the tree is tested. The key difference is in the ability to not only detect defects but to determine the strength lost. This is done by structural testing using the Resistograph®.

 – Owner Tierson Boutte uses a Resistograph® on a large pine. 

The Resistograph® is an assisting instrument in terms of testing decayed and hollow areas in trees.

The Resistograph® measures drilling resistance as a small diameter needle penetrates the wood at constant speed. Resistograph ® can drill up to a depth of 16 inches. However, injury to the wood is minimal as the hole left by the 1.5mm-3mm diameter needle is very small. The sawdust remains in the bore hole which closes the canal.

 – A close up of the needle of the Resistograph® going into the pine. 

Detecting Decay and Rot in Various Stages:

  • Recognize compressed separation zones
  • Locate ring shakes, cracks and cavities
  • Analyze annual rings
  • Determine annual ring width and growth
  • Determine the degree of decay and
  • Evaluate the quality of the wood

Final Thoughts:

Having urban trees that are safer around your property should be a lifelong pursuit and well worth the rewards. Not only do you reap the benefits of your tree, but you will have the assurance it is being managed responsibly. Every decision we make about our urban trees will have an effect on both today’s and tomorrow’s generations. Bottom line, homeowners must make every decision about their tree with safety in mind, starting from the moment a tree is selected.

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