Many homeowners call me to remove hazardous or dead trees. Several factors go into the evaluation of a hazardous tree. Not all trees with dieback, holes or spots of decay need to be removed; however, almost all dead trees should be removed if they are in the urban or suburban landscape. An exception would be a dead tree in a field, forested, marsh or swamp area that attracts birds or other wildlife and poses no threat to its surroundings. When evaluating hazardous trees, I use a multipoint system. First I inspect the tree’s trunk and branches. If I find holes within the trunk or main leaders that exceed 30% of the diameter, the tree gets a point. I also look for significant dieback within the crown of the tree. If there is significant dieback of the canopy, the tree gets another point. Next, I inspect the area surrounding the root collar for cracks in the soil or uplifting or heaving of the root system. This would indicate that roots of the tree are compromised. If I find these signs, the tree gets another point. Finally, I note The proximity of potential targets. If there are structures beneath the tree or adjacent to the tree that would be hit by the branch or main trunk in question should the tree fail, the tree gets another point. If the tree has three out of the four criteria including the presence of potential targets, I recommend it for removal. If it only has dieback and minor decay but is in the middle of a field, I usually recommend removal of dead wood and monitoring. If you live in an urban or suburban area, It is important to have a Certified Arborist inspect your trees once per year. It is vital to the health of your landscape.