Saturated Soil Can Cause Uprooting

21 Jul, 2016
Uprooted Trees

It’s scary to think about having a tree fall on your house. External forces could cause a tree to fall on your car, or even just somewhere in your yard. Trees are generally big and can do a lot of damage to whatever they fall on. Often you hear about trees that fall during storms, and see pictures on TV of the destruction they cause. People begin to worry about the trees on your property and wonder if and when one of them could fall. Saturated soil is a leading cause of tree failure.


Wind-throw is the technical term for a tree being uprooted and falling by Arborists. Force, applied the trunk, acts like a lever and pulls up its own roots. Wind and/or heavy storms are often enough to cause wind-throw. The taller the tree, the more susceptible it is to wind-throw.

Saturated Soil

One of the major causes of trees falling is an overabundance of rain, and then wind. Because the majority of a tree’s root system lies a mere 18″–24″ below ground. When that soil becomes saturated, it is easier for a good stiff wind to take down a tree. With a root system that can be up to two-and-one-half times.

What Type of Tree is More Likely to Fall?

What tree is more likely than another to be uprooted in a storm? Well, yes. In recent studies; balsam, cedar, willow, fir, white pine, white spruce, and sometimes hemlock are more likely to fall during a storm from saturated soil. Generally, though, this is because they are growing in wet areas. The taller the tree, the more likely it will be to fall when the soil becomes too saturated and unstable.

Where Are Trees More Likely to Fall

There are places that trees grow that may make them more likely to fall than are trees in other situations. Trees that grow in rocky or shallow soil can’t put down roots as deeply. These trees will fall more easily than others. Trees that have grown up in a cluster are dependent on one another for support. Forests or a thick wooded areas that have trees removed are very susceptible to falling. Logging or to clear cutting land for housing developments leaves the trees that are left weakened. These trees are more likely to come down during severe weather. The root system of deciduous trees generally spreads out farther that of conifers. This contributes to their greater stability in time of rain, flooding, and windstorms. The type of soil also affects the ability of a tree to remain upright in adverse weather conditions.

Construction Damage

Construction, and it’s process, often causes tree damage. The damage may be invisible to the untrained eye. When trees are removed from a building site, other trees may lose their support system. This can occur with one tree or just a few removed. that The act of construction itself damages nearby trees, also. The movement of heavy equipment, machinery, and other vehicles back and forth over the root system damages it, often beyond saving. Damage may not be noticed for five or even ten years. Other damages such as broken limbs, hitting the tree and scarring it, also harms the tree. A tree thus compromised will be far more likely to be uprooted than will a stable, healthy tree. This is especially true when put to the test in a severe storm,

Other Adverse Conditions

Sometimes it doesn’t take a big storm to cause a tree to uproot and fall. If a tree’s root system has been compromised, it more likely for it to fall. The factors that can impact this are if it is very tall or if it has a lean to it. The slow, incessant rains of winter can so saturate the ground that a compromised tree may fall even when there is no hard wind. Adverse weather isn’t the only time that the soil under and around your trees can become saturated.

Overwatering of your lawn, flowerbeds, or garden area can also cause the ground to become saturated. Always set your watering system on a timer that will turn the water on and off for appropriate lengths of time. Sprinklers that are not on a timer should be set manually. Make sure to set a timer in the house or on your cell phone to remind you to turn it off. Lastly, if you forget and leave the water running for hours on end, the ground will become soaked, weakening the root system of your trees, making them more susceptible to toppling over.

Caring for Your Trees

You should do all you can to prepare your trees to withstand any amount of wind and rain that might come. Heavy storms rarely give homeowners any notice prior to occurring. Trees of smaller size can be staked when they are young. This can help them to help them to grow straight trunks. A sturdy, straight trunk is one step in making your tree stable.

Planting New Trees

If you choose to plant a new tree, be sure to plant it in the best location and in the best soil available to you. For trees that were already on your property at the time of purchase, you don’t have any choice on their placement. However, you can monitor the health of the trees to ensure that they remain as healthy as possible for as long as possible. A sturdy, healthy tree is not as likely to topple over when the ground around it becomes completely saturated with water.

Preventive Maintenance

Call on your local certified arborist to come out and evaluate your trees for stability and health. He or she will be able to guide you on things you can do to keep your trees as healthy as possible and steps to take to possibly prevent them from uprooting during storms. Proper pruning may avert limb loss, and it may balance the tree better so that it will stand through a storm, even in saturated soil. In extreme cases, the arborist may recommend removing a tree. Trees that are dangerous can be evaluated by Houston Tree Surgeon’s, Certified Arborists.