What to Expect from a Tree Inspection – Basic Assessment

Last week, we discussed a limited visual assessment tree inspection. We mentioned that there are three levels of tree inspection. This week, we will talk about a basic assessment. What’s a basic assessment? It’s a detailed visual inspection of a tree and its surrounding site. In a basic assessment, you also get synthesis of the information collected.

In a basic assessment, the tree inspector must walk completely around the tree. They have to look at the site, the buttress roots, trunk and branches. A basic assessment may include the use of simple tools to gain additional information about the tree or its defects. Basic is the standard assessment performed by arborists in response to a client’s request for tree risk assessment.

As we mentioned, simple tools can be used for measuring the tree and acquiring more information about the tree or defects. However, the use of these tools is not mandatory unless it’s specified in the original scope of work. Measuring tools may include a diameter tape, clinometers, or a tape measure. Other inspection tools may include binoculars, a magnifying glass, mallet, trowel, shovel or a probe.

  • Binoculars – may be used to inspect the upper portion of the tree’s crown to look for cavities, nesting holes, cracks, weak unions and other conditions and tree responses.
  • Magnifying glass – may be used to help identify fungal fruiting bodies or pests that may affect the overall health of the tree.
  • Mallet – may be used on the trunk. The assessor strikes the tree trunk in various places and listens for tone variations that may indicate hollows or dead bark.
  • Probe – is a small diameter, stiff rod, stick or wire that is inserted into the cavity to estimate its size and extent. Because there may be sections of nonfunctional wood adjacent to a cavity, this type of measurement should be considered only an approximation of the extent of decay.
  • Trowel/Shovel – may be used to conduct minor excavations to expose roots or the root collar. Care should be taken not to damage roots during the excavation process. More extensive root collar excavations are considered in an advanced assessment, which we’ll talk about more next week.

The primary limitation of a basic assessment is that includes only conditions that are detected from a ground-based inspection; internal, belowground and upper-crown factors may be impossible to see or difficult to assess and may remain largely undetected.

For more information on tree inspections, we encourage you to contact us at 512-341-8888. We look forward to working with you.