leaning tree

As the Lorax once said, “A tree falls the way it leans.” But, depending on the circumstances, a leaning tree can either be safe and natural or dangerous and risk falling.

Generally, trees that lean naturally over time are not a cause for concern. However, trees that lean suddenly can be a sign of structural issues. Read on to learn why trees lean, when you should worry about a leaning tree, and what you can do to fix a leaning tree.

Why Do Trees Lean?

Light: Trees need light to live. The trunk of a tree curves because of the tree’s ability to adapt over time to the changing availability of sunlight. If a tree is planted too close to a structure or another plant that blocks the sun the tree will grow at an angle to avoid the shade and seek out the light. The tree’s root system will grow to accommodate this off-center weight distribution.

Wind: Consistent low winds can cause trees to grow in the direction they are blowing. This is usually not a cause for concern. However, strong winds seen in heavy storms can cause a tree to become unstable and start to lean.

In some cases, the tree will begin to uproot as it leans. This type of leaning is dangerous.

Soil: When soil erodes from winds or water the roots of the tree become exposed. Because these roots are a tree’s anchoring system, soil erosion leading to exposed roots will cause instability causing the tree to lean and possibly fall.

When Should You Worry About A Leaning Tree:

leaning tree 1

You should worry about a leaning tree when it exhibits the signs below. These signs are indicative of structural issues that may make the tree unsafe for the surrounding homeowners and property.

  • The tree suddenly begins to lean
  • Change in the lean/lean getting worse
  • Starts leaning after a storm
  • Soil around the tree is cracked or heaving
  • The tree is leaning over a high traffic area/walkway

If you see one of these signs get your tree checked out by a Certified Arborist ASAP.

Worried About Your Leaning Tree?

How To Straighten and Support A Leaning Tree:

If you’re wondering how to straighten a leaning tree, the best thing you can do is keep it from leaning to begin with. Once your tree is leaning, you’ll need to contact your Certified Arborist as soon as possible so they can address and fix the problem before anything is compromised.

Here’s how to keep a tree from leaning:

Keep An Eye On Your Tree: take a photo of your tree every year. If you think your tree is starting to lean or increasing its lean compare your tree’s current angle to past photos. This will make it easier to spot if the trunk’s lean has changed.

Routine Tree Maintenance:

  • Trimming young trees in their first few years of life can help fix structural issues before they develop into big problems.
  • Tree trimming later in life is a great way to remove deadwood and keep your tree healthy.
  • If your tree does have a lean, tree trimming can reduce the weight of the crown or correct unbalanced growth to make it easier for your tree to keep its stability.

Tree Cabling: Cabling a tree can help give your tree extra support to maintain its structural integrity during heavy winds or storms.  

If you’re concerned about your leaning tree, you can book an appointment with one of our Certified Arborists online or by calling us at 703.573.3029.