(WHDH) — Through snow and summer storms, we’ve all seen the damage that downed trees can cause.
Experts say many of the trees that fall during storms are zombie trees – weak or nearly dead trees.
“A zombie tree is a tree that has undergone some sort of disturbance that has made it unstable or dangerous, but still appears to be a perfectly healthy tree,” explained arborist Steven Kendall.
Part of Kendall’s job is to help homeowners find troubling trees lurking in their yard. 7NEWS was lucky enough to see him in action while patrolling Sally Meding’s home in Natick.
Meding said she knows how scary falling trees can be. His son needed stitches when a tree fell on him while cycling in Wellesley.
“It was really, really scary for me,” she said. “Really scary.”
Kendall said these are simple signs homeowners can use to identify tree problems themselves. He asks them to look carefully at the ground around the tree for mounds or cracks in the earth.
“The root zone may have been affected either by displacement due to high winds or by one or more other types of loading,” he explained.
If the tree is often surrounded by puddles, this could also cause problems.
“Floods can often cause root death,” he said.
Some other signs include:
- A tree leaning to one side
- Animal and bird nests can hollow out the tree and weaken it
- Cracks in the trunk
Mending said she was concerned about a crack in the tree next to her driveway.
“It happened in a strong wind and made an awful noise,” she said.
However, upon closer inspection, Kendall said the tree was in very good condition.
“It’s not a full-thickness crack and it looks like the tree is doing a pretty good job of trying to heal that injury,” he told Mending.
Another useful tip for finding zombie trees: take photos once or twice a year and compare them with past photos to see any changes, especially after a storm.
(Copyright (c) 2022 Sunbeam Television. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)