Tree Inspection Process, Checklist, Precautions & DIY

What is tree inspection? Here is a guide on this process, including a task checklist, precautions, and Do-It-Yourself options.

Every year, precious trees die of sicknesses; every year, trees fall and destroy properties. At times, trees fall and claim lives.

So whenever a tree is perceived disease-ridden, dangerous, etc, experts are brought in to help. Experts are brought in to confirm the genuineness of the concern.

The experts inspect the trees, then advise on what should be done.

So to put directly —

— tree inspection is (as the name implies) the inspection of trees. It is typically done by tree inspection services to ascertain the genuineness of concern about a tree.

If necessary, the experts also advise on what should be done.

Popular Tree Inspection Terms

Three popular tree inspection terms should be understood. They are — “arborist”, “target”, and “resistograph”.

  1. Arborist

An arborist is a professional who studies, cultivates, and manages perennial woody-stem plants. The word “Perennial” is used for plants that live for more than two years.

Arborists are also called tree surgeons.

Arborists are the experts called in for tree inspection.

  1. Target

A target is an object that may be fallen upon (by a tree possible to fall).

A target may be a car, school, house, etc.

  1. Resistograph

A resistograph is an instrument that provides a certain information type about a tree’s internal health. It can tell if a tree is internally okay (healthy), rotten, or hollow.

This device is one of the most common tree inspection tools.

Most resistographs work by using a mechanical component to drill into a tree. The mechanical component drills a 1/6” thick rod into the three. The resistance to the drilling is continuously recorded.

A strong good tree will cause great resistance, a rotten tree will cause less resistance, and a hollow tree will cause negligible resistance.

The drilling resistance recordings are then used to infer the internal condition.

DIY Tree Inspection: Is it Possible and Okay?

Do-it-yourself tree inspection is possible.

It is okay to carry out a DIY inspection.

In this section, some bad signs (on trees) to look for (as well as their respective meanings and what to do) will be presented.

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If you find any of the bad signs, follow its corresponding advice on what to do. You shouldn’t need an arborist after that.

However, if the tree has no bad sign, an arborist should come in. Arborists can discover more problems than you’ll be capable of detecting from reading this content.

In short, DIY inspection is possible and okay, but you may still need an arborist.

Tree Inspection Signs, their Meanings, and What to Do

Sign Meaning and additional info What to do



Deep cavities in the lower part


Deep cavities in the lower part of a tree are a very serious problem.


It is caused by a wide range of things.


A tree with this problem should be brought down as soon as possible. Given enough time or tough weather, the tree will fall. So bring such a tree down as soon as possible.



Find an arborist to bring down the tree.


Bring it down as soon as possible.


Do not attempt to bring it down by yourself.




Mushrooms in the lower part


Mushrooms in the lower part of a tree are a very serious problem.


This problem is often a sign of decaying trunk or roots.


Given enough time, the trunk or roots will reach a stage where it’s too weak to carry the upper part. At this point, the upper part will fall.



Find an arborist to bring down the tree.


Bring it down as soon as possible.


Do not attempt to bring it down by yourself.




Fine or coarse sawdust


Fine or coarse sawdust coming from a tree signals a tree under attack or a finished tree.


Carpenter ants and beetles attack trees. And when they do, the result is fine or coarse sawdust coming from the tree.


If an attack is still in its early stage, some trees may survive under proper treatment.



Find an arborist to treat or bring down the tree, depending on what they feel is best.


The ants and/or the beetles can move to other healthy trees. So get an arborist soon, to afford spread.




Many dead branches


Many dead branches on a tree signal a health issue.


A tree with this problem may be savable or finished.



Find an arborist to treat or bring down the tree, depending on what they feel is best.


Find an arborist soon. The sooner you get an arborist, the higher the chances of saving a savable tree.





Missing bark


Missing or discolored bark can be the result of a wide range of things. It could be caused by a mild problem, like an accident and a surface wound. It could also be caused by serious problems, like the dying of a section.


Missing bark may also be caused by a lightning strike. A tree may recover from such or it may die.



Find an arborist to determine the exact issue and advise on what to do.







Leaning signals an imbalanced tree.


Trees showing this sign are usually healthy. They are usually able to be saved. However, if left, they will likely fall and die.


The wind blows from the west to the east. So a tree leaning towards the east will fall sooner than a similar tree, under similar conditions.



Find an arborist to bring the tree back to a balanced posture.


Find an arborist soon.


Precautions For DIY Tree Inspection


  1. Do not walk under trees with dead branches

Do not walk under trees with dead branches. A dead branch can fall at any time.

Even if the dead branch(es) have fallen, still take this precaution. There may be other weak branches you do not see.

  1. Do it during a broad daylight

A DIY tree inspection must be conducted during broad daylight.

If a tree is falling, you’ll want to be able to quickly know where it’s from. Also, you’ll want to clearly see a safe place to move to.

Taking this precaution also eliminates many problems that may arise from an accident happening at night.

  1. Commit your whole mind

Commit your whole mind to the activity when doing it.

You must be able to respond swiftly if a tree is falling. Having your mind absent in the activity makes that impossible.

  1. Do not have a kid around

When a tree is falling, an adult will likely respond well. The same can’t be said for a kid. So when tree inspecting, avoid having a kid around.

  1. Wash your hands after

While tree-inspecting, your hands may come intact with poisonous substances. So after inspecting, wash your hands thoroughly.

In fact, it is recommended to wear gloves if you can.

  1. Do not do it alone

Do not tree-inspect alone.

In the event of an accident, having another person around will be great. So make sure there is another person around.

  1. Put on a helmet

You can not be too careful.


The above are the most important things to know about tree inspection. But there are some additional information pieces I’ll like to add.

  1. Inspect After A Harsh Weather

Harsh weathers often affect trees, although this may not seem so from a distance.

So after every harsh weather, make it a habit to inspect every potentially dangerous big tree.

  1. Inspect Every 3 Months

Aside from inspecting after every harsh weather, also make it a habit to inspect after every 3 months.

This is just to eliminate any dangerous surprise.

This is even more important when surrounded by a lot of dangerously big trees.

  1. Use An Arborist Every 3 Years

The every-3-months inspection mentioned above may be a DIY inspection. So if you use DIY inspections for the every-3-months inspections, use an arborist every 3 years.

  1. Use Only Certified Arborists

Many people claim to be arborists. If you mistakenly use such a person, you may be wasting what you paid to hire one.

Before using an arborist, make sure they are truly certified. Many good arborists are offering good tree inspections.

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