Sudden limb drop is occurring from Menlo Park’s trees

by Contributed Content on August 8, 2023

With this year’s intense summer weather, some trees around the City of Menlo Park are experiencing sudden limb drop, which occurs when a branch unexpectedly breaks off a tree. It most frequently occurs in mature trees that are otherwise healthy.

There are many theories about the cause of sudden branch drop. A few contributing factors include internal cracking and shrinkage of tissue due to heat and dryness, presence of over-extended, end-heavy branches, and evapotranspiration needs exceeding vascular capabilities leading to an accumulation of excess internal moisture and weakened structure.

While sudden limb drop can be difficult to predict, there are steps one can take to reduce the likelihood of occurrence.

These steps include scheduling regular inspections and maintenance pruning. To help reduce the occurrence of tree failures, the City of Menlo Park’s tree crew and its contractor West Coast Arborists, Inc. inspect and conduct maintenance pruning on street and park trees on a five-year cycle.

Of particular relevance to sudden limb drop is reduction pruning of end-heavy horizontal branches that extend beyond a tree’s dripline and pruning to balance a tree’s crown to help distribute weight and vascular flow evenly. Appropriate mulching, fertilizing, and watering during hot summer months can also help increase tree resiliency.

To report a tree branch down or to request inspection and maintenance for a City tree in your neighborhood, send a work request to the City.

One Comment

Mark Potter August 08, 2023 at 7:34 pm

What about this summer constitutes “intense summer weather?” Please provide the facts.

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