Month: October 2020

Who Is Responsible for a Fallen Tree

Neighbors tree fell on my home who is responsible

Avoid being stuck with the responsibility and expensive repairs when a tree falls on or from your property onto a neighbors’. Knowing how to define responsibility for fallen trees will help you resolve the situation promptly and fairly. gathered information on who is responsible for a tree when it falls, when homeowners insurance should be involved, and proactive measures to prevent your trees from falling.

Fallen Tree Damage Responsibility

A tree does not decide where to fall, but it can cause catastrophic damages when it does fall. Here’s how to determine who is responsible for what:

Neighbor’s Tree Falls on My Property – I am responsible for the portion of the tree that fell on my property, including filing damage claims with my homeowners insurance carrier.

My Tree Fell on My Neighbor’s Property – I am responsible for the portion of the tree remaining on my property and any insurance claims regarding my property.

This assignment of responsibility for a tree and/or branches falling on your property is common throughout the U.S. cities. However, you can dispute this responsibility if before the tree fell:

  • You documented and communicated your concerns about the tree to your neighbor.
  • You or your neighbor contracted a certified arborist to conduct a tree hazard assessment (of the tree in question) and found it to be diseased, dying, or dead and posing a threat to your property.
  • Your city’s arborist or forester notified your neighbor that the tree was diseased, dying, or dead, requiring its removal or pruning.
Dead tree in neighbors yard

You are not responsible for normal or seasonal debris that falls into your neighbor’s yard, like leaves, seeds, and twigs. Your neighbor is responsible for the cleanup of those things.

Note: Neighbors are typically able to work things out without too much debate or trouble. You may need to file a homeowners insurance claim when there are extensive structural damages. Depending on the policy and coverages you have, your homeowners insurance may or may not cover tree cleanup and damage repair expenses.

Tip: For your local ordinance / regulations regarding tree stewardship and legal tree removal, visit, click on “code library” from the menu, click on your state, then find your county or city. Type “trees” in the search engine and select the relevant results. If you happen to reside in Cobb County or Marietta Ga, visit for local regulations regarding trees.

Tree Damage and Homeowners Insurance Claims

When a tree falls on your house, whether or not you own the tree, there are some things you should do. The following will help you prevent further damages and seamlessly file your insurance claim:

  • Call 9-1-1 in the event anyone suffered injuries when the tree fell.
  • If it is safe to approach the tree and damages, take pictures of the damages (a narrated video will allow you to explain what you are filming and capture hundreds of images from the video).
  • Call your insurance agent. They can explain your options and guide you through the process of filing a claim.
  • After filing a claim, an adjuster will pay a visit to the property, assess the damages, and explain how your homeowners insurance coverages come into play.
  • If you have documented proof that the fallen tree (from your neighbor’s property) was diseased, dying, or dead and that you previously notified your neighbor about the tree’s condition, present this to the adjuster. You may have a case to hold your neighbor responsible for all costs and repairs.
  • Make sure to notify the claims adjuster or insurance agent before contracting a tree removal service. Some well-established tree services may communicate directly with your insurance company, helping you through the claims process.

Tip: If you were injured when a tree fell, and you can prove that someone else’s negligence is the cause of that injury, you may have a legal case. Discuss your fallen tree situation with a personal injury lawyer to learn more about your rights.

Note: If the fallen tree is yours, and it was diseased or dying before it fell, your insurance claim may be denied due to neglect.

The following measures should also be taken after a tree falls on your home:

  • Once the tree has been removed, hire a roofing company to repair the damaged portion of the roof and inspect the rest of the roof for any hidden damages from the tree’s impact.
  • Hire a contractor to evaluate the structural integrity of your home.
  • Hire a plumber to inspect and evaluate the home’s plumbing.
  • Hire an ISA certified arborist to perform a tree hazard assessment on the rest of your trees.
Neighbors diseased tree fell on my home

The impact of a falling tree can reverberate throughout your home, causing hidden minor damages that can quickly develop into expensive problems.

Read more about the necessity of tree hazard assessments at

How to Prevent Tree Damage

While mother nature can present forces beyond our control, there is much you can do to help your trees withstand severe weather. The following will help you boost the longevity of your trees and avoid catastrophic damages from their structural failure:

  • Water, mulch, fertilize, and prune your trees as needed for their species and age.
  • Hire a professional tree service to thin the crown, reducing wind resistance.
  • Have your trees inspected annually by an ISA certified arborist.
  • When you detect dieback, chlorosis, and/or fungal growth (mushrooms), take immediate action by hiring a tree service to evaluate the problem’s depth.
  • If your tree is leaning, stake it, or have it removed.
  • If you cannot save your tree or it has become a nuisance, have it removed.

Tip: When your tree presents signs of declining health, have it inspected and treated immediately. The longer a problem persists, the more dangerous your tree becomes to surrounding structures and neighboring trees (diseases and infestations spread quickly)

Mushrooms on a trunk indicate serious tree illness

Read more about tree emergencies at

Fallen Tree Responsibility

In this article, you discovered valuable insight into who is responsible when a tree falls, defining who a tree belongs to, when a homeowners insurance policy should be activated, and what you can do to prevent a tree from falling.

Recognizing tree problems and having them addressed will help you avoid the uncomfortable situation of being held responsible for structural damages and potentially life-threatening injuries.

Ignoring tree problems leaves you vulnerable to your insurance carrier denying your claim and potentially being sued for all damages and repairs caused by your tree when it falls.


Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

200 Cobb Pkwy N Ste 428 Marietta, GA 30062
(678) 505-0266

Why Do Trees Die

Trees dying from hydraulic failure

Prevent the environment, disease, and insect activity from killing your trees. Knowing why trees die will help you take notice and intervene on threats to your tree’s life. assembled the following information about the many factors that lead to the death of trees, the signs and symptoms of a dying tree, and what to do about it.

1. Tree Diseases

Tree diseases can wreak havoc on your trees, and in some instances, kill them in a single growing season. The following are some of the more common diseases that infect trees:

• Anthracnose (Glomerella cingulata)
• Fire Blight (Erwinia amylovora)
• Diplodia Tip Blight (Sphaeropsis sapinea)
• Oak Wilt (Ceratocystis fagacearum)
• Dutch Elm Disease (Ophiostoma ulmi)
• Canker Diseases (caused by multiple fungal pathogens)

Signs and Symptoms – Trees infected with different diseases will display different symptoms. However, all should be treated with haste to prevent the decline and death of the infected tree. The following symptoms can help you diagnose the disease you are dealing with

Anthracnose – Sunken spots or lesions of various colors in foliage, stems, fruit, and/or flowers. Some infections lead to cankers on twigs, branches, and trunk.

Treatment – If this disease is caught early enough, extensive pruning may halt its progression, allowing the tree to compartmentalize affected areas.

Read more about anthracnose at

Fire Blight – Sudden brownish-black withering and death of blossoms, leaves, twigs, fruit spurs, and branches are signs of this disease. Heavily affected trees will appear scorched by fire and may die altogether.

Leaves infected and blackened by fire blight

Treatment – Extensive pruning of affected areas and copper fungicides. However, there is no cure for fire blight. Removal of the tree should be considered before the pathogen spreads to neighboring trees and shrubs.

Further reading on fire blight can be found at

Diplodia Tip Blight – This disease infects conifers, first killing needles at the tips of branches. Symptoms typically appear on the lower half of the tree, progressing upwards. When new needles begin expanding, they end up stunted, turn yellow, then tan or brown.

Treatment – This pathogen responds to fungicide treatments. Treatment should start at bud break in the spring for effective control. Pruning out damaged areas, and cones should also be removed, as they hold fungal spores.

This blight can be controlled, but not cured. As with any needle blight disease, the objective of spraying the tree is to break the cycle of infection in emerging needles. Many seasons of treatments are needed before noticeable results are achieved.

Oak Wilt – This disease infects oak trees. It can be identified as mature foliage develops a dark green water-soaked appearance, or may turn pale green or bronze, starting at the leaf margins and progressing toward the center of the leaf. This usually begins on a single branch and quickly spreads throughout the entire crown. Red oaks can die within 4 to 6 weeks after symptoms appear.

Dead leaves on tree with Bretziella fagacearum oak wilt disease

Treatment – Once an oak tree is infected with oak wilt, there is no known treatment capable of ridding the tree of the disease. Infected trees should be professionally removed.

Note: Healthy oaks can be injected with a fungicide known as Propiconazole to suppress oak wilt disease. Since Oak Wilt is spread by root grafts and insect carriers, treat those trees close to infected ones to slow the disease’s spread.

For more oak wilt information, visit

Dutch Elm Disease (DED) – DED is a vascular wilt disease in trees. External symptoms of infection are yellowing and wilting of leaves on individual branches. These leaves then turn brown and curl up as the branch dies, foliage eventually may drop off.

Treatment – Much like oak wilt, Dutch Elm Disease must be treated proactively before the disease is present in the tree. This disease spreads so quickly that diseased trees may not respond to any form of treatment.

Note: Healthy elms can be professionally treated in the same manner as healthy oaks with the Propiconazole fungicide.

Canker Diseases – Symptoms may include round-to-irregular sunken, swollen, flattened, cracked, discolored, or dead areas (appearing as bruises or open wounds) on tree stems, twigs, limbs, or trunk.

Canker from tree fungi on tree trunks and branches

Treatment – There is no cure for canker diseases on fruit and shade trees, but the disease’s spread can be controlled by pruning out infected areas. In late winter or early spring, carefully remove and destroy infected branches 4 inches below the canker where the tree is releasing amber color sap. If the canker is located on the trunk, request professional help to treat the infected area or remove the tree.

When treating, pruning, or interacting with diseased trees, you can reduce the chances of spreading the disease by:

• Sanitizing all equipment, including gloves, rakes, saws, etc. before and after use
• Destroying (burning) dropped or pruned foliage, twigs, and limbs (never add infected material to compost piles)
• Never spraying infected trees with overhead watering or irrigation

When in doubt, don’t take the chance of making a bad tree situation worse. Reach out to an ISA certified arborist for professional help. Read more about tree fungi control and prevention at

2. Weather-Related Tree Damage

Trees have spent millennia adapting to their climate and region. That said, severe weather can still inflict significant and sometimes lethal damages to a tree. For example:

Bark Stripping – During catastrophic weather events like tornadoes and hurricanes, bark can be stripped from a side of or from the entire tree, effectively killing it.

Impact Damage – Also, during severe weather events, yard ornaments, statues, bicycles, and even vehicles can be carried by wind or floodwater, impacting and severely damaging the tree’s bark. If enough bark is damaged or stripped from the tree, it will be girdled and quickly die.

Drought – When the weather is dry, trees still need water. Most tree roots live within the first 30-inches of soil, and without water for prolonged periods, a tree can suffer hydraulic failure and die. Proper mulching and increased watering patterns can prevent this peril.

Severe or Repeated Flooding – In contrast to drought, this can lead to the destabilization of a tree’s root plate. When this condition occurs, the tree may develop a lean or suffer windthrow from the slightest wind.

Windthrow – This condition occurs when trees are toppled by wind. When windthrow occurs, a tree is uprooted as it is blown over.

Severe weather can uproot and knock trees over this is known as windthrow one of many ways blowdown occurs

Windsnap – This condition also occurs when trees are toppled by wind. When windsnap occurs, a tree is broken off at the trunk as it is blown down. Proper seasonal pruning activities and crown thinning can significantly reduce the potential for windthrow or windsnap.

For further reading and preventative measures on windthrow and windsnap, read

3. Boring Insect Infestations

When it comes to tree killers, boring insects are perhaps the most prolific and persistent. Larvae feed in galleries beneath the bark, consuming the tree’s cambium layer, while adults consume the host’s foliage. Aerial views of forested land demonstrate (in large swaths) the devastation these insects are capable of. A boring insect infestation can be identified as follows:

• Adults found in traps (visual confirmation)
• Partially consumed foliage (Leaf notches)
• Chlorosis of foliage in sections of the crown
• Extreme dieback of foliage and stems
• Frass (sawdust) found on the bark from burrowing activities
• Exit holes in tree bark
• Bulging or vertical splits in the bark (over larval galleries)
• Suckers and water sprouts growing in the crown, on the trunk, and/or from the roots
• Woodpecker damage (woodpeckers hunt beetle larvae)
• Squirrel activity (some squirrel species feed on beetle larvae)

Agrilus planipennis emerald ash borer eab boring insect

As larvae feed season after season, they channel through their host’s cambium layer in a zigzag or ribbon pattern (interrupting the flow of water and nutrients. This feeding ultimately leads to a partial or total girdling of the host, resulting in hydraulic failure and death.

Boring Insect Control and Prevention – Due to the larvae’s occult feeding activities, preventing a wood-boring insect infestation is not always possible. However, these practices will help reduce the potential of an infestation:

• Plant well-adapted species of trees not commonly attacked by wood borers in your region.
• Choose and prepare a suitable planting site to avoid tree stress like freeze damage, sunscald, windburn, and other natural stressors.
• Promote your tree’s health with proper watering, mulching, and fertilization methods.
• Use proper seasonal pruning practices (winter/dormant season).
• Avoid mechanical injury to tree trunks from lawnmowers and/or construction.

If you detect a wood-boring insect infestation, contact an ISA certified arborist to not only confirm the infestation but to mobilize local and regional forestry support if needed. Such infestations can cause catastrophic damages in very little time.

Note: In the absence of stressed or ailing trees, boring insects will attack healthy specimens.

Read more exciting literature about boring insects by visiting

4. Lifespan of Trees

While rare, a tree can die of “old age.” However, what is considered old age for one species may be merely infancy for another. Consider the following species and their average lifespan:

• Willow (Salix) 30 years
• Birch (Betula) 40 – 50 years
• Poplar (Populus) 50 years
• Magnolia (Magnolia) 80 – 120 years
• Maple (Acer) 100 – 300 years
• Oak (Quercus) 100 – 300 years
• Ash (Fraxinus) 120 – 300 years
• Aspen (Populus tremuloides) 150 – 200 years
• Walnut (Juglans) 150 to 250 years
• Fig (Ficus carica) 200 years
• Spruce (Picea) 200 years
• Beech (Fagus) 300 – 400 years
• Elm (Ulmus) 300 years
• Pecan (Carya illinoinensis) 300 years
• Pistachio (Pistacia vera) 300 years
• Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) 500 – 2,000 years
• Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) 600 years
• Bristlecone (Balfourianae) 5,000+ years

Signs and Symptoms – Trees in decline due to age may present many symptoms, including the following:

• Chlorosis (loss of color in foliage)
• Extreme dieback (multiple dead branches)
• Cladoptosis (randomly falling branches)
• Sudden Death (the tree just dies)

When a tree reaches or surpasses its lifespan it may die

If you have a tree that is nearing or surpassing its lifespan and is in decline, there is little to nothing you can do to save it. When in these circumstances, call on an ISA certified arborist’s expertise to evaluate the tree and recommend a course of action.

Note: While most tree species can outlive a human being, the vast majority of trees succumb to weather, biological, or human interference factors long before reaching their full lifespan.

Saving Dying Trees

In this article, you discovered information about the lifespan of trees, diseases, weather, and insects that are commonly responsible for why trees die.

By taking preventative measures to halt the spread of disease and insect infestations, you are helping your tree to live up to or surpass its lifespan.

When you ignore the warning signs of a dying or sick tree, you risk suffering grave consequences when that tree dies and falls on your property.


This article was first published on:

Should You Prune Your Trees in the Winter?

Winter is on its way, which means the weather will bring ice, snow and slush for all of us to enjoy. Though most people tend to spend most of their time indoors each winter, especially in New Jersey when the temperature dips below freezing, some people choose to be outdoors for winter sports and other activities. One thing to consider is to keep up with some specific yardwork tasks that you are able to do throughout the colder season.

Pruning trees

Pruning Trees in the Winter

Winter is actually a good time of the year to prune your trees– the deciduous ones, that is. Since the foliage is gone– the leaves fell off months ago– and the tree is dormant (so there won’t be the bleeding of sap), winter is a good time to be able to see down to the structure of what you’re cutting and take care of business without hurting the tree.

Did you know, for instance, that oak trees should only be pruned in the winter? The reason why is an interesting one: there’s a beetle that is attracted to freshly cut oak trees. The beetle can smell the odor and is attracted to it. However, the beetle is bad for the tree, causing “oak wilt.” During the winter, however, the beetles are hibernating, so it’s the best time of the year to prune an oak. Certain trees are best pruned in winter.

Pruning can be done with hand pruners, pruning saws, chain saws, and other tools. If and when you see branches that look like they’re dying, diseased, damaged, deformed or dead, prune them. Ultimately, pruning helps a tree build its strength and form. It’s a good thing for trees.

Hire a Professional Tree Service!

Do you need trees in your New Jersey yard pruned but don’t want to do it yourself? Contact Big Foot Tree Service at 973-885-8000 to have experts come prune your trees for you. Available any time of the year, Big Foot Tree Service even works in the winter. The number to call is 973-885-8000.


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