How to Tell if a Tree is Dying


Determining if a tree on your property is dying isn’t always as clear as you may hope. However, there are signs you can take notice of to confirm your suspicion of a dying tree – read on to learn more about them!

Signs From the Tree Trunk

As the weight-bearing base of the tree, a trunk that’s been damaged can quickly cause a tree to die. Signs to look out for are vertical cracks or seams in the trunk, missing or sparse tree bark, or cankers and dead bark. The most obvious sign of a damaged tree trunk is tree bark not replenishing itself. Old bark should fall off on its own to be replaced by a new layer of healthy tree bark. However, if new bark doesn’t appear, it’s a telltale sign your tree is on the decline. 

Signs From the Tree Branches

A quick way to tell if you’re tree is dying without getting too close is if the tree branches are bare when they’re supposed to have leaves. Seasonality plays a huge part in this, so make sure you know what type of tree you’re dealing with before making a diagnosis. 

On deciduous trees, dead leaves will cling to dead branches in the winter instead of falling off as they would on a healthy tree. A lack of uniformity in the tree’s branches and leaves could also indicate a decline in tree health. For example, if one side of the tree is missing leaves your tree could have trunk or root damage. 

Additionally, a dead or dying tree may produce brown and brittle leaves during the growing season or have weak branch joints connecting to the tree. 

Signs From Tree Roots

Your tree’s roots can also tell a story of its health. If you notice your tree developing a sudden and noticeable lean, or small branches sprouting from the tree base, your tree probably is having issues with its roots. However, sometimes root damage isn’t as easily found since roots are underground, so if you’re concerned it’s best to call an experienced arborist out to confirm your suspicions. 

How to Prevent Causing Tree Damage

Most of the time a dying tree isn’t something that can be prevented by you, however, there are a few things you can do to ensure your tree’s health is maintained. The main thing you can do to keep your tree healthy is to keep up with routine maintenance – water your trees if you’ve been in a drought, prune them as needed, and plant new trees in areas where they can easily grow. Additionally, as you do lawn care, ensure that you don’t bump into your trees with tools and be gentle when working around exposed roots. 

Whether you need to confirm your suspicions that a tree in your yard is dying, or need to schedule regular or preventative tree maintenance, the experts at Brents Tree Service are the team for the job. Give us a call today!