Are your trees ready for El Niño?


T rees are most susceptible to disease and breaking when there is a severe change in weather. The forecasted reports of a significant rain and wind season mark a severe shift from the extreme heat and drought of the last four years. That makes it a perfect time to assess the health of your trees and ensure that they are properly prepared for the upcoming storms. Without any experience in horticulture or tree biology, you can perform a quick health assessment on your tree by looking for the following indicators of disease or susceptibility:

  • die back at the tips of limbs or entirely dead limbs,
  • discoloration of foliage,
  • fewer leaves than normal,
  • decay cavities, or
  • cracks in branches or crotches

In addition to these obvious signs, there are also some things that are less apparent that a tree owner can look for.

Fruiting bodies can be indicators of the presence of decayMushroom or fungal growth on, or around, the base of the tree and lower limbs are the most obvious signs of decay; however, they can also be found growing in the ground around the drip line of the tree. Mistletoe is another type of fruiting body indicating decay activity.

Fruiting Body (Mistletoe)

Fruiting Body (Mistletoe)

Soil disturbances near the tree such as ground upheaval, change in soil elevation or recent excavation should also be considered as possible threats to your trees preparedness for a severe change in weather. The soil around your tree is the anchor point of your tree. If that anchor point is weak, your tree has a heightened risk of uprooting or shifting.

Excessive end weight is another serious concern that indicates a tree is more susceptible to splitting or breaking. Trees that haven’t been professionally pruned under the direction of a certified arborist for more than a few years have a higher chance of breaking when the winds and rains come because the excessive weight on the ends of the limbs pull and strain the structure of your tree. Properly alleviating the end weight of your tree can prepare your tree for the storms and promote proper shape and growth.


Overall, there are several threats to the health of your trees that are increased by drought. The forecasted winds and rains are often the tipping point where a struggling tree is no longer able to withstand these hidden threats.

If any of these indicators are present on your trees, or if your trees need to be prepared for the coming storms, give us a call and set up a consultation. We have a certified arborist that specializes in tree risk assessment who can determine the right course of action for your trees.

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