C ommonly trees become unstable due to the roots being damaged. This could be through fungal activity causing root decay which in turn affects the roots ability to anchor within the soil, or because the roots have been directly damaged through excavation. When there are less roots anchoring the tree because they have been severed, or the roots are dying off or decaying due to fungal activity, it can get to the point where the load of the tree is too much and the tree will lift at the root plate.
It is necessary to be particularly careful if you are undertaking any works that may affect the roots of a tree, as it can cause some significant problems. When landscaping works are undertaken and the tree roots are not considered, roots can be physically severed or damaged through soil compaction. This can lead to a multitude of problems for the structural and physiological health of the trees. This also applies to trees that are in close proximity to construction.
A good example of a fungal infection affecting tree stability is honey fungus. Typically the fungus will degrade the woody tissue of the roots and stem base, which will affect the stability of the tree due to loss of anchorage.
Weather conditions will also play a huge role in affecting the stability of trees. Strong winds can create enough of a load on a tree that even if the trees roots are healthy and intact a tree could become unstable. Fortunately, these sorts of winds do not happen all the time and the chances of this happening are slim, unless other factors such as fungal infection increase the probability of failure.
If you are worried that your tree may be unstable then it is always a good idea to get an opinion from a suitably qualified tree expert. Undertaking any work on trees that have lifted at the root plate can have its own set of dangers which need to be considered by the operators when dealing with them. Atlas Arboriculture hold a specific qualification relating to working on trees that have lifted at the root plate. This provides the knowledge and technical skills to undertake the work safely. This NPTC qualification is known as CS 34 or Unit 302. Should you need any work to be undertaken on a tree that has lifted at the root plate you should make sure the contractor has this qualification.
We are always available to provide you with a professional opinion to help you make the right decisions when managing your trees. Please contact us to arrange a consultation.