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Should You Be Concerned About A Leaning Tree? Here's What To Look Out For.

Updated: Dec 18, 2022

Throughout the Atlanta area, leaning trees are commonplace. But, does this mean all of these trees are hazardous? The key distinction to consider when evaluating a leaning tree is the rate at which the tree has developed its lean.


  • Trees with a tendency to lean over time are usually not high risk and can't be corrected or straightened.

  • Like other plants, trees are naturally attracted to the sun, and away from other trees or structures. This phenomenon is known as "phototropism."

  • A tree that faces competition for sunlight will tend to lean towards the sun to receive direct light.

  • The roots of the tree grow in opposite directions to the direction it is leaning. This anchors the tree.

  • Once the tree is established with its lean, it can continue to grow in that manner.

  • Sometimes, trees that were leaning may start to shoot new growth upwards once they have lost the sunlight competition. However, the leaning parts of the tree will still be there.

  • Trees with a rapid lean can pose a higher risk of falling.

  • No matter how large or small the tree, developing a quick lean means one thing: Root system instability .

  • A clear sign of a lean cause by a root is raised ground or disturbances to nearby structures or fencing.

  • Shallow soils and high-limestone can contribute to unstable roots.

  • Periods of drought or flooding can also cause soil shifts, which can further hinder root formation.

  • Root rot, which is often caused by fungus can lead to widespread root system death and severe structural instability.

  • A lean in the aftermath of a storm or severing of roots during construction is a sign that a tree is about to fall.


A tree that has developed a lean over time can't and shouldn't be straightened. This can cause structural instability and increase the risk of it falling.

It is crucial to address a sudden lean quickly. Before the problem gets worse and the tree falls, A sudden lean in small trees can be corrected. This will allow the tree to develop new stabilizing roots. Complete removal is usually the best way to address a sudden lean in large trees. Rope off any area where the tree is leaning due to storm damage or root disturbance. Contact an arborist immediately because the tree could come down at any moment.

Life's Tree Doctor loves trees, and our customers! We are happy to visit your tree to do a free risk assessment if you currently have any concerns. Contact us today if you notice a tree with a sudden lean. One of our ISA Certified Arborists will be able to properly assess the situation and offer a solution. We serve Cobb County and all of Metro Atlanta.

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