Check Your Tree For Signs Of Impending Death

By the time it becomes obvious that a tree in your yard is dying, it may be too late to save it. In order to avoid a costly, time-consuming removal project, it’s helpful to monitor your trees for signs that they’re embarking on a death spiral.

Gardening Know How warns you to examine your trees for these signs that all isn’t right. One telltale giveaway that your tree is hurting is an unseasonal lack of foliage. Brittle bark and a spongy trunk are also signs of weakness.

If you notice your tree is in trouble, take an inventory of its symptoms and talk to someone at a garden or tree shop. Your problem could be insects, lack of access to water or nutrient-rich soil, a fungus or some sort of disease, and all can be treatable with proper care.

Also, it’s important to note that tree care can be a safety issue. Weak trees can result in unspeakable tragedy.

What Does A Dying Tree Look Like: Signs That A Tree Is Dying [Gardening Know How]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Gman says:

    Local authorities are looking for this man [] after a series of tree slayings that left one man known as “Mr. Lorax” weeping uncontrollably.

  2. bsh0544 says:

    I hesitate to call a “tree doctor”. I don’t have any pets because I don’t want to have to pay the vet bills, and now I’m supposed to call what amounts to a vet for the foliage outside my house?

    • bsh0544 says:

      I’d also like to add that that’s about all the article says, is “call a tree doctor.”

    • Tegan says:

      Well, dead tree removal alone can be very expensive, usually in the thousands of dollars. Also, the costs of repairs after a dead tree falls on your house could be pretty horrendous. The whole ounce of prevention thing, you know.

      • Bibliovore says:

        That, and live, healthy trees tend to boost appraisal values. If your vet analogy makes you cringe, you can instead think of it as being like calling out a contractor for a sagging deck or whatever — can you get it repaired, or is it a lost cause in need of removal and replacement, and how much would the contractor charge for that?

  3. samonela says:

    We just spent $3k to have a nearly 60 year old Ash tree removed from our front yard.

    It was about 50 feet tall with a trunk that as about 8 feet in circumference. It was fairly healthy but was planted right over where our water and gas lines ran from the city (nice job post WWII home tract developers!), and had one of the main branches (each one being maybe 3-4 feet around and weighing hundreds of pounds) broken and fallen off, they would have easily destroyed whatever they landed on.

    It was sad to see it go but it had to be done.

    • LanMan04 says:

      So it was healthy? And the main issue was a big branch coming down?

      Or did the city order you to remove it due to the interference with the water and gas lines?

      Confused as to why it had to go…

      • lockdog says:

        Most of the eastern US is losing their ash trees to the emerald ash borer, and invasive that came over from China and is decimating our tree. You can treat a tree, but for one that size the bill will be close to $1000 a year, every year until science finds a more permanent solution or the tree dies. If I had a mature ash that was already attacking my sewer and gas lines, but likely to die soon anyways I’d replace it if I could afford to, and immediately replace it with another high-value tree. Most of the heavily treed streets in my area have two per lot. They encourage homeowners to cut one at the first sign of problems, and immediately replant. That way when the other eventually declines and needs to go, the new tree is established, healthy and providing shade. Otherwise on a street where everything was planted at the same time they all tend to go at the same time and in the span of a few years a street goes from stately and shaded to a blistering hot moon scape since grass, flowers, and shrubs that were used to the heavy shade rarely adjust to full sun.

      • samonela says:

        That and the ever increasing potential of roots destroying our gas and water feed lines that ran a mere 24″ directly under the tree, across the yard, and to the house. Had anything happened to them due to the tree we’d have been tasked with removing it anyhow AND repairing the line damage.

        A large root has also been uprooting the public sidewalk (uneven by about 1.5″ thus far) and the street (there is about a 6″ hump in the street maybe 10 feet from where the tree once stood) for the last few years. According to the city engineer that came out, the city will have to fix that….some day.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      Grr. I have two sweetgum trees about the same size in my yard. I can’t afford to have them cut down. I wish I could; they make a horrendous mess in the yard with all the damn balls all the time. If I could get rid of them, I’d plant pine trees. Those have nice shade, and people will beg me for my pine needles and cones so I can get my yard cleaned up for free.

      • Bibliovore says:

        Choose your pine wisely. Eastern white pines grow quickly and look nice, but their needles only live about two years each, which means they drop around half of them annually. You’d need to know a whole lot of people who want needles and cones to keep up with that.

  4. Coffee says:

    Recently, I’ve been noticing thin lines of sap on the trunk of my favorite tree, a clear sign of hesitation cutting, and I worry that one of these days, it will mean it. Right now, I’m waffling between calling a tree therapist (an expensive proposition) and a tree removal company. I know that the therapist is the “humane” thing to do, but if I spend all that money and my tree ends up dying anyway, I’ll really be kicking myself.

    Any advice, Phil?

  5. AngryK9 says:

    The tornado that blew by my house on the 2nd pretty much took care of that problem for me…

  6. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

    How can check if I am properly taking care of our Tree of Liberty? Any suggestions on to how to properly feed/water/refresh it?

  7. Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

    Phil, Phil, Phil. Just when I thought we can’t get any further from consumer topics…

  8. MaytagRepairman says:

    Here is another sign your tree is near death — a pileated woodpecker has removed 1/3 of the bark off of the tree. Actually I think the tree has been long dead. I leave it up because he is soooo cute. It is in a spot that if it falls over nothing should get hurt.

  9. gman863 says:

    If you have a dead/dying tree that’s becoming a hazard, is it close enough to fall on a power line?

    If yes, call your electric utility and complain about the hazard. Even though it’s on your property, they may trim or remove it at no cost as part of their routime tree trimming.

  10. ScandalMgr says:

    Corrected headline: “Check you journalism career …”

    Has NOBODY here heard of habitat? Dead trees perform a vital ecosystem function: bugs inhabit them which feeds birds. Birds nest in them, etc…

    I have friends who are paid well to dynamite the tops out of trees to create habitat for endangered species that depend on them for nesting and shelter. You all should help put them out of jobs by not cutting your diseased or dying trees down.

  11. cabalist says:

    This warranted a post? Sorry comma but the article was not even that informative. “Call a tree doctor if your plant does not look healthy.” Done. The whole article, almost.

  12. Debbie says:

    They forgot a common problem: A root circling the tree. It’s often hidden under the soil and it killed out tree a section at a time.

  13. ablestmage says:

    This is positively the worst link source I have ever seen on Consumerist. The article is essentially empty of any helpful information, but generous on completely unrelated advertisements. I almost thought it was one of those fake sites with garbled language and keywords aplenty, just to fool someone into visiting the site. The article doesn’t offer a single item of useful information that isn’t stupendously obvious. “Call an expert” is the only resolution here — why even write an article about that?