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How to Tell If a Tree Is Dead


While trees are a staple of the world, they do not live forever. In fact, suburban trees have an average life span of 32 years. This means that, more likely than not, a tree will die on your property at some point.

Many homeowners wonder how to tell if a tree is dead. Read on to learn how professionals evaluate your tree. Explore signs to see whether your tree is dying. From there, a decision will be made whether to trim the tree back or remove it entirely.


Bare Branches


Bare branches are the easiest way to spot a struggling tree. This sign may become evident several times during the year.

For instance, it may not grow foliage in the spring with the rest of your trees. In another scenario the tree starts losing leaves during the summer and earlier than expected.

If you have bare branches on the tree, it is recommended to have a professional evaluation. It is possible that the tree has a disease. Also, if the tree loses a significant portion of its leaves, it could be a risk to fall over.




Deadwood is another potential symptom of a dying tree. Naturally, deadwood refers to branches that are no longer receiving nutrients and dying off.

If large branches start routinely falling to the ground, a more thorough evaluation may be warranted. However, trees naturally purge branches to conserve energy.

First, check fallen branches to see the color of the wood. If the inside is bright green, you have nothing to worry about. However, a light green or brown is a warning sign.


Check the Bark


One way to determine if a tree is dying or not is to check the bark. Trees start dying on the inside before symptoms start appearing on the exterior.

Remove a piece of bark from the tree and check the color. If the bark is green on the inside, the tree is still alive. However, if the tree bark is brown and dry there is cause for concern.

In a worst-case scenario, there are widespread areas of dead bark. This scenario presents itself as cankers that were caused by a fungal or bacterial infection.


Irregular Lean


Some trees lean in one direction or another and it is not particularly concerning. However, if the tree starts to lean too much it may be unhealthy or dying.

The general rule of thumb is that any lean greater than 15 degrees is problematic. Excess lean means the roots are losing strength.

In some cases, tree lean is caused by strong winds. Regardless of the cause, this degree of tree lean is not a good indicator for its long-term survival.


Understanding How to Tell If a Tree Is Dead


Clearly, there are many different signs and symptoms that your tree is dying. You are likely to see bare branches or deadwood falling to the ground. In other cases, the tree may start leaning more than 15 degrees in a certain direction.

If you are asking how to tell if a tree is dead, contact us today to schedule an evaluation.

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