Ken was very pleasant to deal with. ”- Betty T.


Thanks for always doing a great job! ”- Shannon R.

What is a Tree Risk Assessment?

One of the services we offer through The Consulting Group at Preservation Tree Services is a Tree Risk Assessment.

Our Registered Consulting Arborists (RCAs) evaluate the level of risk a tree or trees on a property represent to people or other property. Understanding these risks can help you mitigate and plan for future safety issues by providing proper care, along with tree removal when necessary. This is often a top priority on public property, commercial properties, academic campuses and the like; but there are also situations when Tree Risk Assessments are needed on private residential properties.

Tree Risk Assessments are often performed in conjunction with tree inventories, or following a tree inventory that has pinpointed potential risky trees.

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Purposeful and planned management of urban trees within our cities and towns help to maximize the multiple environmental and social benefits trees provide.

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When an RCA performs a tree risk assessment, they first begin by making a visual assessment. This involves quickly scanning the entire area, whether by walking on paths or sidewalks or driving the property, and recording a bit of detail about each individual tree. If a tree stands out as a high to extreme risk, the RCA dives deeper into the assessment.

A basic assessment occurs when the RCA gets up close & personal with the tree in question. They look for all visible defects on the tree and in the surrounding area. The arborist will also use a rubber mallet to check for open cavities through a process known as ‘sounding’.

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During sounding, an arborist strikes the trunk with a rubber mallet. To a trained ear, the sound produced can signify a hollow tree or open cavities.

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For trees that seem to pose an extreme risk, the RCA will conduct a comprehensive assessment that involves evaluating the roots, stem, and crown of the tree. In this situation, the arborist may perform a climbing inspection of upper branches in the tree canopy, or root flare excavation to examine roots. Then, recommendations are given as to the proper course of action in order to minimize risk.


Fungal conks are a telltale sign of root disease.

What are signs of high or extreme risk?

When performing a Tree Risk Assessment an arborist will look for the following signs & symptoms that can lead to future failure:

At the Soil Level: heaving or cracking, excessive erosion, mushrooms around base of tree signifying rot, decayed roots, buried collar, and soil compaction

On the Trunk: peeling bark, cracks or cavities, leaning trees, insect damage like borer exits, and co-dominant trunks

In the Crown: dead or decaying branches, hanging branches, mistletoe, and tip dieback

If you are a commercial or municipal property owner or manager, or a campus property manager, tree risk assessments are a must to protect individuals and structures. Contact our Registered Consulting Arborists with any questions or to schedule a professional consultation.

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