Dead wood is actually a natural process for many fast growing trees such as silver maples, locusts and birch. Small interior branches receive less sunlight and are also more prone to cold damage in the winter. The tree sends more sap to those branches which are supporting the tree. Eventually the sap supply to the less productive branch is cut off, and the branch dies.
In times of extreme stress, branches larger than one inch may die back. If this size of branch breaks off, it leaves a large irregular wound.
Here are three proven reasons you should have any dead wood removed.
To Protect the Health of the Tree
Dead wood in a tree is more than unsightly. It threatens the health of your tree.
Many homeowners wait until a thunderstorm comes through and snaps the dead branches off. Unfortunately, this exposes the heartwood of the tree. The rough ends of the broken branches make a perfect site for insects to make their homes. Water is also able to stand in the fissures. The moisture favors fungus and decay organisms, leading to trunk rot, especially as larger breaks often remove wood from the trunk as well as leaving a part of the branch behind.
If you are concerned about providing a natural woodland environment, speak with a certified arborist. While many species of birds are attracted to dead wood, it is better to attach deadwood within the canopy artificially, rather than leaving it attached to the tree.
To Reduce Liability
While almost all wood will eventually decay and crumble, this process takes too long in urban settings to be safe. There’s a reason hanging deadwood is known as a ‘widow maker.’ Dead branches become brittle which makes them prone to breaking off during storms and even light winds. A branch may cause property damage or injury when it snaps.
A certified arborist can help you deadwood your trees safely. Reduce liability by having any dead wood that has a diameter greater than 2 inches removed. Smaller branch removal is more for the health of the tree than for liability.
To Manage Moisture
When deadwood is removed from the canopy, consider keeping it on the property. The nutrient bed method benefits trees and landscape plantings by encouraging an old growth forest soil microbiology. The soil retains moisture for longer, yet drains better. It increases the ability of your trees and other landscape plantings to absorb necessary nutrients from the soil. This is then seen in healthier foliage and disease resistance.
An arborist certified in nutrient bed management can help you establish this forest-like ecosystem. In the process, you will not only protect the health of your trees and reduce your liability risk, you’ll be embracing a system that is sustainable.