How Far Can a Tree Lean Before It Falls?

How far can a tree lean before it falls? The short answer is that it depends more on why the tree starts to lean than on a specific angle. A tree that grows at a slant or that has multiple trunks might prove stable. However, when you have a leaning tree that suddenly tilts, you may have an issue with the root system. In this post, the pros at Raleigh Tree Service, Wake Forest’s tree service experts, explain more about this phenomenon. 

Why Is the Tree Leaning? 

Storm-damaged trees are more likely to be hazardous than trees growing on a slant. To determine whether or not you should worry, consider when the condition began. If the tree was upright but suddenly began to lean, there’s likely root damage, which makes it unstable. On the other hand, a tree that grew where it faced strong winds daily would naturally lean to one side without being in any danger of falling over.

A good rule of thumb is that when a tree that grew upright for much of its life starts to tilt over, it’s time to investigate the cause. Inspect your trees for signs of damage and see if you can see a ground disturbance or if the roots are lifting. Pay particular attention to the ground opposite the direction the tree’s leaning in. 

If you can see signs of the earth coming up, the tree is beginning to uproot itself and can topple at any time. In such cases, the answer to, “How far can a tree lean before it falls?” is less important than how quickly you can remove it. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to fix this kind of damage. 

What’s a Good Reason for a Tree to Lean? 

When considering, “How far can a tree lean before it falls?” we must take account of phototropism. Basically, this means the tree’s growing toward the best light source. This may start with the tree shooting up to get its crown as tall as possible, but it can also result in growing at an angle or the trunk curving. 

If you dig into the ground, you’ll see that the tree has a stronger root system opposite the tilted side to balance the canopy. You’ll know that these are safe because it occurs over many years and not after a single storm. 

Consider the Angle 

You might see trees growing out the side of a cliff at all types of angles. They’re at greater risk of toppling than those on more even surfaces, but if their roots are strong, they’re not a hazard. 

Conventional wisdom holds that trees leaning more than 15 degrees are potentially dangerous, but there are many other factors at play here. It’s advisable to bring in a professional to conduct a risk evaluation to be sure. 

Think About Where the Tree Is

The final thing to consider is what happens if the tree falls. If it’s in an open field and unlikely to do any damage, there’s no rush to remove it. If, on the other hand, it might crash into your home or some other structure or, worse yet, onto someone, you need to act. 

If that tree topples, you’re liable for any damage it might do. Therefore, we recommend playing it safe and asking for professional advice. 

Contact Us for Advice

Are you wondering, “How far can a tree lean before it falls?” because you have a tilting tree in your yard? Even if it’s not one of the trees most likely to fall, it might pose a hazard. Call Raleigh Tree Service at (919) 889-5783 and schedule a risk evaluation to keep you and your family safe. 

You have come to the right place for expert Tree Removal, Tree Trimming, Stump Grinding and Friendly Service! At Raleigh Tree Service, we proudly provide Greater Raleigh, NC and The Triangle with safe, affordable and efficient tree service.

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5300 Atlantic Ave. Suite 106-4

Raleigh, NC 27609


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