• George R. Lee

What Is a Stress Crack on a Tree?


The term "stress cracks" is often associated with damage to basement walls or driveway cement. Home inspectors also use the term "stress cracks" when inspecting drywall and framing of homes or other types of buildings. Such cracks usually mean there is a problem and correction is needed.


Stress cracks occur in trees too. These cracks usually indicate there is a problem within or around the tree. These conditions can develop due to a number of circumstances. Just like the cracks in the basement wall, the driveway or interior of the house, if you don't deal with the problem now, you'll certainly have to deal with it later.


Here are just some of the reasons trees have Stress Cracks:


  • The tree has been struck by lightning.

  • The tree is root bound due to some form of root girdling.

  • The tree is suffering from soil compaction.

  • The tree has an open area of rot where water is setting.

  • The tree has been damaged by some form of wood boring insect and the area has not healed.

  • The tree has been injured. A common example is weed trimmer damage at the flare/base or some type of vehicle damage and the tree has not healed.

  • The tree has been incorrectly pruned.

  • The tree has been impacted by acts of nature like ice, high winds or a heavy canopy.

  • The tree is lacking in water, or in some cases too much standing water.

  • The tree is low in vigor due to a lack of required nutrients.

  • The root system has been damaged due to nearby root cutting. This often happens during new construction where changes occur within the root zone of the trees drip edge.


All of the above scenarios as well as others can and will lead to situations which put the health and safety of your tree in danger and possibly you and your property. Should you see a crack developing in your tree, the best action you can take is to contact a professional arborist. A qualified arborist will be able to assess the condition, examine and evaluate why this is happening and suggest a solution. They'll be able to tell you if the tree can be made safe in its location, if there are treatments available, or if there are safety concerns and that the the tree should be totally removed.

The professional staff at Branch Tree Service performs stress crack, decay, rot, and other tree health and safety evaluations on a daily basis. Feel free to contact us regarding your trees today!