Signs That Your Tree is Dead

tree removal richmond

Trees add more to a landscape than just aesthetic appeal. More significantly, it produces oxygen that is beneficial to humans, reduces stormwater runoff, provides shade and protection, and provides additional benefits to humans and the environment. They are known for their resilience and ability to resist numerous weather changes. Unfortunately, trees are also susceptible to mortality. The following are the signs that will determine if a tree is dead: 

Related: How To Do Tree Removal Yourself 

Thinning of Foliage

 A tree’s lack of foliage is an obvious sign that it is decaying or dead. It is possible that bare branches on one side of a tree signal root damage. It could also indicate the presence of disease or pests. Dead leaves are a solid sign that something on the inside of the tree is impeding the flow of nutrients. In many situations, the harm is irrevocable and permanent.

Also, during the growing season, it is recommended to look for branches with brown and brittle leaves rather than lush green foliage on deciduous trees. Dead leaves will also stick on the tree late into the winter, rather than falling to the ground. It is one of the noticeable signs that a tree might be dead when its foliage shows signs of thinning.

Peeling or Cracking of Bark

 If the bark of a tree is flaking and peeling, it is a clear indication that it is not getting enough nutrition. A tree, like a human, has skin, which is the bark. The bark of a dying tree gets loose and begins to fall off as the tree ages, and vertical fissures or missing bark are also possible. It is recommended to look for deep breaks in the bark that extend into the tree’s wood, as well as internal or exterior cavities, since the tree’s bark loss may be caused by an infectious disease. With this, it is recommended to chop it down before the infection spreads and may affect other trees nearby.

Brittle and Brown Branches

After windy weather, if the tree’s branches break easily and observe dead branches littering the ground, it is important to have the tree’s safety examined as soon as possible. Brittle branches are frequently indicators of being sick or dead and may oftentimes imply that the tree as a whole is likewise dying.

It is recommended as well to perform a scratch test. This is the most accurate approach to determine the condition of the trees. The test itself is straightforward and can be done by simply snapping a few twigs from the tree in question and scratching a portion of its bark away. If the exposed portion is green and moist, the tree is still alive. If it is brown, brittle, and dried, the tree is probably dead. It is necessary to use more than one twig for this test and check a handful of them, this can avoid further danger or accidents.

The Appearance of Pests, Mushrooms, and Fungi

The presence of rot or tree fungus is always a bad sign and if these signs are noticed, it should be acted upon immediately to rescue the tree. Unfortunately, if the damage is severe, the tree will be unable to be saved. Though some rot and fungal treatments exist, they may not be worth trying if the tree is already dead, especially if the fungus has already spread. In such a case, the tree will have to be cut down.

 Pests such as bark beetles and carpenter ants thrive on stressed or dying trees. These bugs prefer to live in hosts that are dead, feeble, or dying. It is recommended to look for cankers or the discolored regions or depressed areas on the bark, or mushrooms developing on the ground at the foot of a tree or on the tree itself if it is suspected of a fungal or bacterial illness. Usually, the rot in the roots or trunk is indicated by these symptoms and these decay issues will spread further within the tree over time that may cause structural issues.

 Lastly, the presence of mushrooms around a dead tree is another sign to look out for. It is recommended to peek at a tree and to look for any mushrooms or fungus growing near the base of the tree or on the trunk. If this is the case, the tree may have gotten rotten on the inside, indicating that it is dead or dying. 

Leaning Trunk

A leaning tree should not exist unless it grows at an angle. The roots of a tree that begins to keel over are signs that it might be dying or injured. In some cases, it might be able to brace the tree to keep it from falling completely but do not expect it to be saved. Most of the time, a tree is already dead when it leans over, since excessively leaning to one side often signifies a concern with death.

Though in some instances, death of the tree might not be the case, even if the tree is still living, it might pose a threat, especially in congested residential areas. A homeowner should consider what would happen if the tree fell on someone walking or sitting beneath it, or even onto their home.

What To Do

There are times when there is nothing to do to save a tree. Even healthy, sturdy trees can succumb to extreme weather, illness, or infestation. If the tree cannot be saved and is at risk of falling on persons or structures, it is preferable to cut it down since trees’ dangers are not always visible.

Hire a Professional

Do not be alarmed if there are noticeable indicators of a dying tree. Before it can cause any harm, seek professional help to do so. Seeking help from professional tree services can describe the indicators of a dying tree and tell you whether the tree can be saved or if it needs to be cut down. Richmond Tree Service can provide the information and help that is needed to make an informed decision on all concerns related to trees. Contact us immediately for any questions concerning trees, call us at 804-485-2568.



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