In fact, zombie trees are being talked about more and more. Earlier this year, Stanford University researchers found that a fifth of the coniferous trees in the Sierra Nevada forests are now “mismatched” to the warming climate. These trees can no longer withstand the warmer, drier conditions.
But, moving back from California’s forests to Edmonton backyards, what’s the risk in simply letting a zombie tree be a zombie tree?
“If you don’t do anything about it and just leave it, there may be some internal decay,” says Sproule. “Let’s say that tree has gone through a large storm and now there’s a crack on the tree, even a crack you may not see. This is an entry point. Insects and disease can get in. Your tree may have internal decay, and may be dying from the inside out — just like the zombies you see in horror movies.”
And a tree that’s “structurally unsound” could fall over.
If you have a tree showing signs of weakness, Sproule recommends calling in a certified arborist to check it out. Just because the tree is showing signs of stress, it doesn’t mean it has to be chopped down. The message here is to trust the expert.
Fall and winter is a good time to check trees. With their leaves shed, its easier to examine the bark for damage, like cracks.
And Sproule says it’s a good time for Edmontonians to do some preventative maintenance on their trees, to prepare them for severe weather to come. Taking deadwood out is important, as is thinning out the tree. A tree that’s thinned out will have more gaps for wind to pass through, making it less likely to suffer damage from the gales.