6 Things You Should Know If You Have a Dying Tree

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Chris Yu

Chris Yu has been helping home and business owners with tree services for over 12+ years and is dedicated to providing relevant, proper tree information for everyone.

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If you have a dying tree on your property, you have some work ahead of you.

How exactly do you know that a tree is drying? What does the process of taking care of it look like?

For the sake of your tree and protecting your belongings from a future falling, we’re going to walk you through 6 things you should know if you have a dying tree.

1. Know the Difference Between Dying and Dead

Before you put effort into trying to “save” a tree, you need to make sure it’s not past the point of no return.

You may be able to tell that a tree is dying from various physical indicators. These include the posture of the tree, damage in the trunk, excessive dryness in the wood, and little to no leaves on the branches.

For the posture of the tree, if you notice that it leans or doesn’t sit upright as it should, it may be suffering from root weakness (a sign of decay).

If you see big cracks or injuries on the trunk, you should be concerned.

Many resources say that fungi, or mushrooms, are a sign that a tree is dying. This is sometimes true, as many mushrooms are saprophytes (i.e. decomposers of dead material).

However, it’s important to note that many mushrooms also form beneficial relationships with trees. These are known as mutualists.

These types of mushrooms form mycorrhizal relationships with trees, giving the trees more water, immune protection, and better nutrient absorption while taking carbohydrates from its roots.

You can try to identify the type of mushrooms near your trees, but this may be more difficult than other methods of determining whether it’s thriving or dying.

Nonetheless, this tree-fungi relationship is incredible and it even allows trees to communicate with one another.

2. Trees Can Get Sick

Just like other plants and animals, trees can fall ill.

In natural forests, trees live interdependently. When one gets sick or doesn’t receive enough oxygen or nutrients, the surrounding trees will send them help through the underground mycorrhizal connections mentioned earlier.

While most people don’t own property in forests, it’s still important to note that trees naturally form relationships with one another.

So, if you suspect that your tree may be dying, it’s important to get to the root cause of the issue to make sure other trees aren’t being affected.

3. Finding out the Cause of Your Dying Tree Is Essential

If your tree is sick from bacteria, a virus, chemicals, or pests, it’s important to get to the bottom of things to try to help it out as well as other trees in the area.

This may require an arborist’s help as there are many issues that could be happening. 

Other than being sick, your tree could be dying due to inadequate soil, not enough water, or root stress.

To figure out if this is the case, you’ll need to properly identify the species your tree belongs to. Tree identification relies on the shape, size, and colors of leaves, the texture of bark, and the fruiting bodies.

Once you know the tree you’re working with, you can research to find out its nutritional and water needs.

4. Trees Require Some Maintenance — Even as They’re Dying

You should aim to give your tree enough water and mulch.

Mulch is a top covering such as straw or woodchips. It serves as a blanket around the base of the tree, keeping moisture in the soil while keeping temperatures cool.

If you’re trying to recover the tree, keep walking around the base of it to a minimum. This will keep the soil from compacting and the roots becoming stressed.

Additionally, you’ll want to make sure to give your tree a proper haircut every so often. What we mean by this is pruning, which is the strategic removal of certain branches to promote growth in the rest of the tree. 

You can prune yourself but it’s wise to seek out an arborist to make sure you don’t shock or injure the tree.

5. Dying Trees Can Become Dead Trees

This may be obvious but it’s important to discuss.

If you cannot save your tree, it will continue dying until there’s not any life in it.

At this point, you potentially have a liability on your hands.

If a tree on your property falls and causes damage, you’re liable for the damages. This could affect your neighbors or the public street you live on.

Otherwise, the dying tree may damage your own belongings or even cause serious bodily harm.

Aside from simply wanting to keep as many trees alive as possible, this is a good reason to always be aware of the health of the plants on your property.

It’s a matter of saving the tree, saving money, and potentially saving lives.

6. Dying Trees Are a Big Job

We mean this literally and metaphorically.

In the literal sense, trees can be hundreds of feet tall and weigh tons. Trying to climb up a tree to carefully prune its branches can quickly become an unsafe operation.

In the metaphorical sense, figuring out how to diagnose the cause of your dying tree and choosing which steps to take is quite an undertaking. If you’re an average person that knows relatively little about trees, it’s going to take a lot of research.

Even then, you may miss some critical information.

Luckily, this big job can be handled by professionals. Local arborists are acquainted with the native trees in your area and should be able to guide you through the process.

They can also remove any dead or dangerous branches, keeping your belongings and family safe.

Make the Best Decision

If you have a dying tree on your property, do what’s best for it and for your family. 

Contact us today and our competent arborists can assess your tree’s condition, prune branches, and help you to recover it.

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