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Michael Wheeler: The tree dilemma: Should it stay or should it go?
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Over the past few days, I have received a number of phone calls about whether or not trees should be taken out or left standing. Much of the concern has been due to the weather we have had over the past couple of weeks. Dry conditions over the past few years followed by good growing conditions have stressed a lot of trees. Soft ground from the recent rains and strong winds has proven too much for some trees.

When it comes to deciding whether or not a tree needs to come out, many people lose perspective of the big picture. Trees are definitely valuable in a landscape. They provide shelter for wildlife, provide erosion control, cast shade on your house in the summer and can be visually attractive in a landscape. Sometimes all of these factors make it hard for a homeowner to put a value on a tree.

When I talk to someone about a potential problem tree, I ask them to think about their willingness to take a risk. A lot of that willingness has to do with where the tree is in the landscape and how it leans. A tree that is in poor condition but out in the middle of the yard will probably stand a better chance of remaining than a tree that is going to fall on the house.

Sometimes to get the homeowner to think more about it, I would ask them, “Is that tree worth as much as your home?” In other words, are you willing to let that tree fall on your house and go through the headaches of home repairs just to let the tree live? Most of the time, homeowners realize that it’s just not worth keeping the tree.

Certified arborists are the best people to help give you a clear, unbiased picture of the situation. They will give you the overall picture of the condition and health of the tree so you can make a good decision. This is especially important if you have a few trees that seem to be healthy, and you want to do all you can to promote the health of the tree. Many times arborists can spot sources of future problems before it’s too late and give you advice on how to avoid or correct them.

If you take care of your trees, they will take care of you. Many times tree problems can be avoided, but when they cannot, do not be afraid to take them out to protect your property and your family from a hazardous situation.

Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, His column appears biweekly and on

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