NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – A massive tree fell in Douglas Thursday crushing a car and injuring two people. Neighbors say it fell out of the blue, raising questions about tree maintenance and safety.

“There’s a lot of science to arboriculture. Understanding trees and their biology goes a long way. But there’s many things we can do to mitigate the risk,” said Greg Beck, a certified arborist at Bartlett Tree Experts in Northampton.

Beck added regular inspection is key to tree safety, “We recommend having large trees close to structures inspected annually. We also recommend it after a major storm event.”

There are three levels of assessment they can do with escalating complexity, the top-level includes resistance drills and sonic tomography to determine the strength of the tree and root out any potential internal decay. On top of that, an arborist can also handle preventative maintenance.

“We have extensive soil care programs where we bring in prescription fertilizers and feed that tree exactly what it needs based on soil tests. Routine maintenance pruning, reducing weight on over extended limbs,” said Beck.

Maintenance should be left to professionals, especially on larger trees. However, there are a couple things you can do in your backyard to reduce the risk of falling victim to an unexpected timber.

“The number-one thing I would suggest homeowners do is to not disrupt root systems,” said Beck.

Root disruption is a major concern during building projects. If you don’t have one planned, there are a few warning signs to watch for.

“If trees are dying from the tip down, that’s generally not a good sign. If there are excessive dead limbs in the tree, that is not a good sign. Also fruiting bodies or mushrooms,” said Beck.

Local News

Duncan MacLean is a reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since 2019. Follow Duncan on X @DMacLeanWWLP and view his bio to see more of his work.