Ask a Consulting Arborist Q&A: Bark and Trunk Concerns

Q: What should be done with a leaning pine tree?

Tuesday, June 07, 2016  

Q: I have a pine tree in my backyard that is bowing and leaning toward my neighbor's yard. About two years ago, it was perfectly straight, but I started noticing the bowing about a year ago. First, can you explain and describe what causes a pine tree to bow and lean? Second, is it a hazard, and does it need to be removed? Overall, the pine tree is a 14" caliper and is very healthy. The pine has green needles and no browning, dead branches, or signs of insect, canker, or decay. Please help.

A: From the description of the change in the angle of the trunk, and the change from vertical to leaning within a couple of years, there are a few likely reasons. One may be wind damage that pushed the tree and cracked wood in the trunk, allowing it to lean or bow. Another is severe insect damage, such as trunk borers, that has weakened the trunk stability. Another is that the root system is damaged and may be shifted in the ground, allowing the tree to lean. If the tree was in a group of other trees and some of those were removed, it may not have the trunk taper to hold itself upright out in the open.

Without inspecting the tree (from photographs and/or field inspection), diagnosing what has happened to change the tree from upright to leaning is only a guess. It could still have green needles and appear alive even if it has internal wood damage that allowed it to lean or bow. I recommend having a Certified Arborist or Registered Consulting Arborist come and inspect the tree. Find a Consulting Arborist today.

Responder: John Harris, RCA #468, Hollywood, FL