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How to Know if a Tree is Dying and How to Improve It

a large dying tree

The lifespan of a tree is largely dependent on the type of tree. In ideal conditions, for example, ornamental trees live 15-20 years, but a maple tree can live a century. Other species like giant sequoias may live a thousand years.

That being said, environment and other factors can impact whether or not a tree’s longevity is seen through. Signs that a tree is dying are generally similar across species, so if you suspect a tree on your property is in declining health, look for the signs below as well as ideas for how to restore its health before you need to consider removing a dead tree.

Signs Your Tree is Dying

Local Conditions Negatively Impacting Tree Health

If a change in the environment such as new construction near the tree or planting competing greenery has impeded its health, then the tree may show signs that it has declining health or is dying. A number of factors can play into this, but often human intervention such as commercial enterprises like building facilities on a property where trees are present are usually the cause.

Damaged Trunk

A number of variables may lead to tree trunk damage, such as the presence of pests or diseases. A trunk may have missing bark or growths such as cankers. The presence of vertical cracks may also indicate that the tree is not well.

One way to test if the tree has trunk damage is to scratch off some of the bark to see the inner layer. If that inner layer is brown, rather than a whitish color, then it is likely dead or dying.

Damaged Roots

Tree roots may become damaged in a number of ways such as from mowers cutting too close to them; the surrounding soil eroding from changing environment or weather conditions; or the presence of tree diseases that target the tree’s roots.

Some things to look for when you suspect your tree has damaged roots include:

  • Tree leans when it did not previously have a lean
  • Small branches at the tree base have begun to sprout up
  • Roots look slimy and are also slimy to the touch

Bare Branches

In some seasons such as winter, bare branches are perfectly normal. However, if it is your tree’s typical season to have leaves and/or fruits present and there are none, it could be a sign that something is wrong.

Likewise, if a tree does have leaves but they look brown and brittle, or if branches themselves look weak at the joint where they meet the tree, you could have a dead or dying tree.

Presence of Fungus

Fungal growth at any point on a tree is a sure sign of a tree with declining health. Look for it especially at the base of a tree trunk or the roots if you have noticed any other health indicators that you have a dead tree.

Ways to Prevent Tree Damage

Although you may be learning about this topic because you have a tree that shows signs that it is dying, you can still take steps now to make sure other trees on your property don’t suffer the same fate. This may include doing things differently such as:

  • Improved root and trunk care – If you regularly mow your grass or have landscapers cut it, ensure that the roots are avoided in the process. Also, be sure to give a wide berth to the trunk if you commonly carry yard work tools around that could accidentally damage the bark if the equipment rubs up on the trunk.
  • Smart pruning practices – Although many homeowners may decide an arborist may be better equipped to handle tree trimming, some may take it on themselves as a cost-saving measure. Learning the right types of pruning and the right time of year to do it may be time consuming, but if you decide to do it, be sure to follow the best practices for your type of tree and the climate.
  • Pay closer attention to the weather – Some trees may need more care in drought conditions or when unseasonably cold or warm weather is present. Be sure to keep track of the weather so you can determine if your tree needs additional watering or may have its health impacted by a sudden cold snap.
  • Be mindful of planting new greenery – Because location is vital to tree health, it is important to be aware when planting new trees, bushes, or laying down grass seed how that change may impact your existing trees.

How to Restore a Dying Tree

A number of things can be done if a tree appears to have declining health but may still be able to be restored. Some of those practices may include tree injections, tree trimming, and other tree services pertinent to tree health. Working with a certified arborist allows you to determine the exact problem your tree is experiencing and what, if anything, can be done.

If an arborist assesses your tree and determines it is beyond saving, they can also help in the tree takedown and removal process. However, the end result can only come about if you make an appointment with a tree company and find out what’s wrong with your tree.

Contact a Certified Arborist in Little Rock

For help with tree problems or other issues with your trees, contact the experienced arborists at Capital City Tree Services today to schedule an appointment!

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