That towering white oak tree in your front yard sprouted from an acorn when your great-great-great-grandmother was in diapers. It provides cooling shade in the summer and adds thousands of dollars to your property value, not to mention it's majestic and beautiful. But under the wrong conditions — high winds, lightning or heavy ice and snow — falling limbs from that beloved oak tree could cause serious damage to your house or vehicles. If your homeowner's insurance is stingy, you could end up paying tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket for repairs.
Again, an ounce of prevention is worth a metric ton of cure. For large trees like mature oaks and elms, call in a professional tree service to inspect and prune the tree every few years. The tree service folks will be able to spot and diagnose disease problems that could weaken the tree and expose it to strong winds. They can also cut back limbs that are growing dangerously close to the house or use cables to strengthen limbs and trunks against stormy weather [source: Gordon].
For lots more homeowner tips and money-saving ideas, check out the related HowStuffWorks articles on the next page.