San Diego

Local Arborist Explains How To Assess Trees For Possible Risks

A deadly tree-fall accident that killed two people in a Point Loma Heights home Monday has many people wondering how they can maintain the safety of large trees around their own properties.

A San Diego arborist shared some tree upkeep tips and also explained home routine check-ups can keep you safe and save you money.

“Trees break and you never know where it’s going to break exactly,” said Brandon Bellis, owner of Three Men and a Tree Inc. “If a tree is close to your house or something that’s important to you it probably should be kept up with annually.”

One way to keep a large tree safe is by performing a simple maintenance task called structure pruning, which can help keep trees around for a longer and safer period of time.

Structure pruning is the practice of trimming leaders, or thicker branches growing from the main trunk, that could grow as thick as the main trunk and throw off the tree’s balance.

“As the tree grows, sometimes they split or one tree starts growing on one side,” Bellis said. “If it’s 50 percent the size of the regular trunk of the tree or more, then it’s going to cause problems later, so you want to take it off at a young age.”

Bellis said structure pruning and other simple, regular maintenance can also save property owners money.

“A tree can be as much as $100 to $200 for little maintenance, easy just in and out, few branches off every year,” Bellis said. “If people neglect it and it builds up, builds up, and gets heavier and heavier and then it becomes a problem that no one has that money to pay for the tree, so you have accidents.”

While accidents cannot always be prevented, check-ups can ensure that overgrown trees are trimmed and there are no diseases or infections impacting the tree's health.

According to local non-profit Tree San Diego’s website, tree canopy in the San Diego region is estimated to be 60 to 70 percent below what it should be.

Bellis says San Diegans shouldn’t be focused on getting rid of trees, but rather taking care of them and replacing them when necessary.

“Obviously if [the tree] is over a house and it’s going to cause damage that's just exceptional, but if you’re just cutting your tree down just to cut it down, you’re going to hurt everyone in the long run,” he said.”

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