Healthy trees

Homeowners sometimes have a complicated relationship with the trees on their property.

That's because trees can add to a home's value, according to Time magazine. By providing shade and blocking the wind, trees can also lower your air conditioning bills in the summer and your heating bills in the winter. But those majestic, leafy friends can cause a lot of trouble, too.

They can topple over due to disease or bad weather, potentially causing injuries or property damage. You can get hurt trying to maintain them. And if a worker gets injured while working on your trees, in some cases you may be liable.

With the right care, you can help ensure that the trees around your home bring you joy - and not problems.

Learn how to keep your trees healthy
Though trees can weigh many tons, they're still vulnerable to damage and disease. By paying close attention to your trees, you can help keep them strong and healthy.

Learn the signs of damage
A healthy tree holds a full, dense covering of leaves until autumn, according to State Farm. On the other hand, if your tree has dead limbs, cracks in the trunk, discolored or missing leaves, or sawdust around its base from an insect attack, it may be sick. Mushrooms growing around the tree may also signal a root problem.

Avoid damaging your trees
Be careful when digging near trees, since you can damage roots. Also take care not to hit roots on the ground with your lawnmower, State Farm warned. Pruning a tree can make it stronger, but doing it incorrectly can harm it, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Protect yourself while working on trees
Tree maintenance can be a tricky task. Follow these rules, whether you're working on the tree yourself or bringing in hired help:

  • Know when to say when. Hire an arborist to take care of a tree if it's growing near a utility line, Allstate recommended. Also, though it's reasonable to prune limbs that are less than 5 centimeters in diameter (a bit less than 2 inches), call in a pro for limbs more than 10 centimeters (a little less than 4 inches). If you're using a chainsaw, be particularly careful. These tools send 36,000 people to emergency departments every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.
  • Hire a reputable tree professional. Be sure that any tree service company you hire has references and a good reputation. Also make sure the company carries insurance, since you might be liable for worker injuries if it doesn't, according to the Tree Care Industry Association.
  • In general, your homeowners insurance covers you if one of your trees hits your home, and it will also pay toward removing it, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

    If you need coverage, check out CoverHound, your online source for quick insurance quotes.

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