• Split trunk

    Split trunk

    It is important to pull back ivy on double-trunk trees to look for splits or cracks.
  • Crack in trunk

    Crack in trunk

    This vertical split is about 6 feet high from the base of the tree. This chestnut tree could fall at any time.
  • Decayed base

    Decayed base

    The base of this tree is rotting, and the tree should be removed.
  • Frass (sawdust)

    Frass (sawdust)

    Sawdust (frass) on the trunk or the base tells you that borer beetles are attacking the tree.
  • Termites


    Termites are not frequently seen in healthy trees. Notice the wings that the insects have shed (wispy things to the right of the insects).
  • Mushroom attack - 1

    Mushroom attack - 1

    Ganoderma sessile shows up on hardwood trees and is a sure sign of decay.

  • Mushroom attack - 2

    Mushroom attack - 2

    Armillaria is another deadly fungus.
  • Mushroom attack - 3

    Mushroom attack - 3

    Another cluster of armillaria, this one growing in a large clump.
  • Mushroom attack - 4

    Mushroom attack - 4

    The speed at which inonotus, a deadly fungus, grows is unpredictable. (The red extension cord? This tree was rigged out for Halloween.)

  • Mushroom attack - 5

    Mushroom attack - 5

    An old inonotus dryadeus fungal body.
  • Cavity at the base

    Cavity at the base

    You wouldn't know that this hole is as deep as it is without probing it with a long rod or stick. This tree needs further Resistograph testing.

  • Animal hole

    Animal hole

    Something has been digging -- an animal lives here! Animal holes can indicate extensive decay.
  • Missing bark on trunk

    Missing bark on trunk

    The missing bark on this tree along with the mushrooms growing on the trunk tell us that this tree is dead and decaying.
  • Girdling root

    Girdling root

    Girdling roots cut off the flow of water to the trunk and canopy, and will eventually kill the tree or cause it to fall over. Often they can be pruned, depending upon their size and how much they wrap around the trunk.
  • Uprooting Tree

    Uprooting Tree

    The raised soil around the base and opposite the lean (as opposed to under the lean) tells you that this tree is in the process of uprooting.

    Zone 2: The ground, including any visible roots and the first three feet up the trunk

    There are two types of tree roots. The most visible are the large anchoring (structural) roots, which hold up the tree. The smaller and invisible absorbing roots provide the tree with water and nutrients from the soil. Even a tree that appears strong and vibrant with foliage can have serious root problems. Examine the base of the trunk and the ground around the bottom of a tree. It’s here that you may find your first evidence of root problems or other hazards.

    • Pull back any ivy, mulch, or ground cover (watch out for poison ivy!) and look closely where the trunk meets the ground. If you see cracked or raised soil, the tree may be in the process of uprooting.
    • Do you see fungus (mushrooms) on or near the tree's roots or trunk? Fungus is a strong indicator of root or trunk decay. And when a tree’s anchoring roots are rotting, decayed, or cut, the tree is at risk of falling over. If too much of the trunk is decayed, it can buckle or break.

    Uprooting, root rot, and decay at the base of a tree can be very dangerous situations which require immediate attention. Call a Certified Arborist to help you determine whether the tree needs to be removed or whether it's safe to leave it standing.

    Other things to look for in your Zone 2 inspection:

    • Deep cavities (openings in the tree) near the ground are a bad sign. The tree could collapse if the trunk is missing too much wood at its base.
    • Are there dead branches on the ground? If so, there will likely be more up in the tree, especially if your tree has never been cleaned out by a tree care professional. Hesitate before you walk under the tree if the ground is littered with dead branches. An arborist will usually spot dead branches you didn’t notice.
    • Do you see coarse or fine sawdust (also called "frass") on the trunk or at the base of a tree? If so, the tree is getting attacked by borers (small beetles). A borer invasion will usually kill the tree. However, in some species it may be possible to save the tree if the insects are caught and treated early on. When you see frass, call a Certified Arborist immediately to find out why it's there and what it means for your tree.
    • Do you see carpenter ants or termites at the base or on the lower trunk of your tree? Both of these insects only nest in wood that is already dead, so they are good indicators that there may be a problem inside the tree. Carpenter ants are usually seen on the outside of the trunk on the ground leading to the tree. Termites are difficult to spot because they die from the heat of sunlight, so they stay hidden underneath dead bark.
    • Raised sections or cracks in the driveway or sidewalk caused by a tree's roots pose a risk to pedestrians. These need to be repaired so people don't trip or fall. Consult a Certified Arborist to learn how you can save your tree's roots while addressing the problem.