As a homeowner, it can be worrying to notice signs that a beloved tree in your yard may be dying. A dead or dying tree can pose safety hazards to your home or family if branches or the entire tree falls. Catching tree issues early allows you to take proactive steps to save the tree or have it removed professionally. Use this guide to determine if your tree is dead and what your next steps should be.
Signs Your Tree Might Be Dead
Here are some telltale signs that indicate your tree may be dead or dying:
- Brittle, dry branches that break easily
Healthy branches are flexible, but dead branches are dry, brittle and snap easily when bent. This happens when sap can no longer flow through the xylem to nourish the limbs.
2. Peeling bark or cracks in bark
The bark protects the cambium layer that transports nutrients through the tree. When this layer dies, the bark peels off in chunks to reveal the wood underneath. Cracks also form as the bark dries out.
3. Top branches or leaves dying first
If the top branches and buds cannot leaf out in spring, it indicates the roots can no longer supply the top of the tree with water and nutrients. Dieback starts at the top.
4. No evidence of growth like new leaves or shoots
Living trees produce new growth each season. Dead trees will not put out new leaves, flowers or shoot growth from branches or trunk.
5. Evidence of rot in the trunk
Advanced decay in the trunk is a final stage of death. The wood softens and punky, moist rot develops. Mushrooms may emerge. Which is the next sign.
6. Presence of mushrooms or fungi growing on the bark
Fungi that grow on bark or roots feed on decaying wood. They thrive on dead trees and aid decomposition.
7. Woodpecker holes along the trunk
Woodpeckers drill into dead trees searching for insect larvae in the decaying wood. Lots of holes indicate the tree is infested.
8. Swarms of insects like carpenter ants or beetles
These insects prey on trees under stress or dead trees where they can bore into the wood. Large groups signal decay.
Pro Tip: If you notice any combination of these signs, especially lack of leaves and top branches dying off, your tree is likely dead or dying.
Inspecting Your Tree
When examining your tree, look for signs of life. Healthy trees will produce new growth each spring with shoots, leaves, and flowers. Snap a few small branches and check – live branches will be flexible and tough to break while dead ones snap easily.
Also look for recent damage, like lightning strikes or trunk wounds that could be infecting the tree. Check the soil at the base of the tree for mushrooms, which indicate rotting roots. Insert a screwdriver into the trunk to test for soft, rotted wood.
When to Call a Professional
If inspection reveals your tree is dead, contact a professional tree removal service. Tree removal is complicated, dangerous work best left to experts. Proper tree removal can prevent damage to surrounding trees or structures.
A trained arborist can assess if your tree can be saved with pruning or treatments. However, if the tree is dead or mostly dead, removal is likely your best option.
Removing a dead or dying tree protects your home and family and allows room for a new healthy tree to grow. Tree services have the equipment, skills and insurance to remove trees safely and efficiently.
Get Help from a Tree Service Company Near You
Don’t risk injury or property damage by removing a large dead tree yourself. Timber provides an extensive directory of professional tree removal companies to handle the job safely.
Find a qualified tree service in your area today to schedule an on-site evaluation. Get a free estimate for full extraction or trimming of dead branches. Save beloved trees using maintenance services or say goodbye and plant new seedlings. You can call us directly at (631) 343-5869 or fill out a contact form, and we will help you get estimates from our partners.