Identifying Dangerous Trees In Ontario

How To Identify A Dead or Dying Tree

Brendan O'Brien

4/1/20242 min read

Identifying Dangerous Trees in Ontario: Signs of Unsafe Trees and What to Do

Trees are a beautiful addition to any landscape, providing shade, beauty, and environmental benefits. However, some trees can pose significant risks to property and safety if they become unstable or unhealthy. In this guide, we'll explore common signs of dangerous trees in Ontario and provide tips on how homeowners can identify potential hazards.

Signs of Unsafe Trees:

  1. Leaning Trunk: A tree leaning significantly to one side can indicate root issues or structural instability. If the lean is sudden or pronounced, it may be a sign of imminent failure.

  2. Cracks or Splits: Visible cracks or splits in the trunk or major branches are signs of structural weakness. These can result from internal decay, storm damage, or mechanical injury.

  3. Dead Branches: Dead or hanging branches pose a risk of falling and can indicate overall tree health issues. Look for branches with no leaves or signs of decay.

  4. Fungal Growth: Fungal growth on the trunk or around the base of the tree can indicate decay and internal rot. Mushrooms, conks, or fungal brackets are common signs of decay fungi.

  5. Root Damage: Exposed roots, heaving soil, or signs of root decay (such as dead patches of grass or soil mounding) can indicate root issues that compromise tree stability.

  6. Visible Decay: Hollow or decayed areas in the trunk or major branches weaken the tree's structure and increase the risk of failure, especially during severe weather.

  7. Unbalanced Canopy: Trees with an unbalanced canopy or excessive deadwood may be prone to branch failure, especially in high winds or storms.

What to Do if You Suspect a Dangerous Tree:

  1. Assess the Risk: If you notice any signs of a potentially dangerous tree on your property, it's essential to assess the risk level. Consider the tree's proximity to structures, utilities, and high-traffic areas.

  2. Consult a Professional: When in doubt, seek the expertise of a certified arborist or tree care professional. They can conduct a thorough inspection of the tree and recommend appropriate actions, such as pruning, cabling, or removal.

  3. Regular Inspections: Schedule regular inspections of trees on your property, especially after severe weather events or during periods of rapid growth. Early detection of potential issues can prevent accidents and costly damage.

  4. Take Prompt Action: If a tree is deemed hazardous, take prompt action to mitigate the risk. This may involve pruning dead or damaged branches, installing support systems, or removing the tree altogether.


Identifying and addressing dangerous trees is essential for maintaining a safe and healthy outdoor environment. By recognizing the signs of tree hazards and taking appropriate action, homeowners in Ontario can minimize the risk of property damage and ensure the safety of their families and neighbors.

If you have concerns about the safety of trees on your property, don't hesitate to contact a qualified tree care professional for guidance and assistance.