Planning for winter - Tree Maintenance Ltd.
Healthy looking beech tree

Healthy looking beech tree

I know we’ve not had much of a summer so far and to start talking about winter already seems to be just not far! But now is a good time to take a look at your trees to see if there are any early signs of a problem.

But first, my name is Martin and I have been working with trees for about 24 years, I have letters after my name to prove it. I have been with Tree Maintenance for over 12 years and split my time between climbing trees, quoting and consulting. One of these days someone will realise how much fun I have climbing trees and stop paying me, so better back to the blog… (my first one!)

So, you don’t have to be an expert to spot the early signs of problems, all you have to do is use a bit of common sense. Below are the four areas to look at:

  • Ground
  • Trunk
  • Canopy
  • Leaves / Needles

Now to take each one individually


Sometimes we spend all our time looking up without seeing a problem below. Have a quick look around the base of the tree for anything which looks out of place, e.g. exposed roots, large cracks or even a fungus. But remember, just because you find something doesn’t mean there’s a problem, it could just be time to get an expert in to have a look; better to be safe than sorry.


The three main things to be looking for here are as follows:

  • Cavities – a tree can lose over half its internal mass and still be able to survive (if the circumference is mainly intact). So finding a small hole does not condemn the tree, it only means you should get it looked at.
  • Abnormal bumps – when a tree has an internal weakness which you can’t always see, it will put on what we call reaction growth, this is were it will basically try to make itself stronger at an area of weakness. This results in lumps and bumps appearing. Again this may not mean the tree needs work, only that it should have an expert look at it.
  • Staining – this is often a sign of some internal defect, which again should have some further investigation.


This involves mainly looking at the branch structure and the amount of dead wood. When looking at the branches you are looking for tight forks, which could be an indicator of a weakness, or rubbing branches may also cause long-term problems. The amount of dead wood in the crown will vary on different types of tree; overall some dead wood is to be expected, but if there is a lot then the tree may be in decline.

Leaves / Needles

Poor looking beech tree

Poor looking beech tree

A good indication of the tree health is the leaves. For example, if your beech tree has small yellowing leaves and the one next door has large dark green ones your tree could be showing the first signs of problem to with the soil or roots. However it could also mean that you have a golden beech which is quite rare! So it’s always good to know what is normal for that type of tree. Also the amount of foliage is a good indicator of a tree’s health.

So with all these tips you should be able to be able to spot a warning sign that your tree needs help. However, this is only a guide; if you are in doubt ask an expert (that’s what we’re here for!) Hope this has been useful in helping you look after your trees.

This post was brought to you by Tree Maintenance. If  you would like any assistance with your tree report, by all means give us a call.

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