Residential, Commercial & Utility Tree Services

Is My Tree Dead or Alive? How to Spot a Diseased Tree and What to Do About it

You may have a few trees in your yard, or maybe you have quite a few (acres’ worth). Either way, knowing how to spot if a tree is dying or already dead is an important part of tree ownership. Because a dead tree can cause serious safety issues and be completely unpredictable once it dies, you must take action on a tree in this condition quickly. If a tree falls on your roof or fence, it can cause a lot of damage, and it could also fall into your neighbor’s yard and cause damage for which you will be responsible. In a worst case scenario, it could hurt or even kill someone when it falls, so taking quick action is crucial.

How to Recognize a Dead Tree

Finding a dead tree in your yard may be difficult, especially if you live in Ohio where sometimes the types of trees look dead in different seasons if you aren’t used to spotting a dead or alive tree. The trick is to spot a tree before it has died and find it while it is going through the dying process to help minimize damage. Some signs are obvious to spot, while others are a little sneakier.

Sticks…Sticks Everywhere

Trees shed branches and sticks sometimes, as people with a lot of trees in their yard probably know after all the stick cleanup they have to do on a regular basis. However, if you see the number of sticks increasing or them coming from the same tree all the time, it is a sign of an unhealthy tree. A healthy tree has flexible branches and twigs that tend not to break off very often. More than a few sticks from one tree is a sign that you should call a professional tree service company to inspect the tree.

Brittle, Brown (or Cracked) Bark

When a tree starts dying, bark loosens, starts falling off, and may start cracking. To determine if your bark is damaged on your tree, you can look for splitting in the bark that’s deeper than typical bark wear and tear, but these cracks cause weakness in the bark, and storms, high winds, or heavy precipitation can create heavy damage to the tree. A Certified Arborist can look at this and determine how far along a tree is in its disease and can decide if it can be saved or if it’s too late for this particular tree life.

Unhealthy Leaves

The deciduous trees we have in Ohio can be spotted more easily when looking for healthy versus unhealthy leaves. Check for branches without lush green leaves. Obviously during the winter season when the tree’s leaves have fallen—or during fall when they are changing colors and falling—the leaves will not look green and healthy. However, if it is growing season, and your tree has very little green on it, and is instead brown and brittle, or if in the winter brown and brittle leaves are hanging on for dear life, you should call a Certified Arborist to take a look and diagnose any potential issues. Coniferous evergreen trees with needles will turn red, brown, or yellow if it is time for them to be inspected.

You See Fungus or Rotting Areas

Tree fungus may be something you see in the woods a lot, but it is actually a sign of an unhealthy tree, and it is a sign you should act on right away if you want to save the tree. If it’s too late and the damage is too extensive, it won’t be possible to save the tree, but if you can get to it sooner rather than later, it might be a possibility. Some treatments for rot and fungus do exist, so acting on it before you have a dead tree on your hands may pay off in the end. Otherwise, the tree will need to be taken down. Look for discoloration or depressed places in the bark or mushrooms on the ground at the base of the tree to determine if your tree’s roots or trunk have decayed.

Pests and Critters Have Taken Over

Termites, beetles, ants, and other pests may have started calling your tree home. Unfortunately, this means the tree is under some sort of stress, because those are the trees these types of pests typically find and enter. They just tend to prefer dead or dying hosts. So, if you see bark beetles or carpenter ants or find that your tree has a termite problem, call a tree service company to determine if the tree can be saved.

A Lean That Is Either Sudden or Gradual

Whether your tree has started leaning and got worse over the course of months or years, or if your tree started leaning out of nowhere, it is a telltale sign of weakness or imbalance. If your tree leans more than 15 degrees from vertical tell Arborists that the tree has wind or root damage. If a tree has tipped this much because of wind, it is difficult to save them, and they usually will not survive. A lean like this is a big risk to your home, your neighbor’s property, and the safety of all those within falling range. The tree may be able to be braced to keep it from falling, but that doesn’t mean it can be saved. Of course, if your tree started growing at a lean from the beginning, that might just be how it is, so make sure you have your Arborist determine whether you have a dying or dead tree on your hands before you just remove it. 

How the Certified Arborists at Rogue Tree Solutions Can Help Save a Dying Tree Before it Becomes a Dead Tree

We specialize in Tree Removal, Stump Grinding, Pruning, Lot Clearing, Consulting & Tree Disease and Pest Diagnosis. We pride ourselves in setting the industry standard. We have a very skilled team that consists of years of experience, an ISA-certified arborist, State of Ohio licensed herbicide applicators, etc. At Rogue our mission is simple, we don't want to be compared to our competitors, we want to set the precedent, we want to be ROGUE.

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