How To Tell If A Tree Is Dying: 12 Symptoms and Suggestions

If you are worried about the health of your trees and want to know how to tell if a tree is dying, then read this article for further guidance.

Trees are the source of life. They give us shelter, food, and fresh air. Our garden and parks look lively and calm thanks to them. However, is there a way to tell if the trees are healthy or not? Are we treating them well or not?

A tree may appear healthy to you, but there are a few things we can look for to determine its health. Sometimes it’s obvious that they are dying due to their age or bad weather, but still, there are many ways that can prolong their life.

No doubt, trees are the most valuable assets on our planet and we are going to discuss a few things in this post to know how to tell if a tree is dying and what are its symptoms, causes, and ways to protect it.

Symptoms to Tell if a Tree is Dying

There are various ways to find out if your tree is fine or not, there are a lot of differences between a dead and an unhealthy tree. You can check them out by observing the following things such as:

How To Tell If A Tree Is Dying
A dying tree image- How it looks

1. Look Out for Leaves

They are the food factory of any type of plant, and you can observe your tree’s health by observing the leaves. Such as color changes without seasons, the appearance of burn marks, curling, and leaf spots on them. 

For deciduous trees, you will notice their leaves are falling more than expected and their leaves are turning yellow, which indicates a severe health issue for the tree. 

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For evergreen trees, you will notice their leaves will turn red or brown with needles, which also indicates a severe health issue in them.

They also start to show signs of Overwatering and Underwatering.

2. Look Out for Roots

When a tree is unhealthy, its roots become sticky. Mushrooms and insects like ants start to appear on them. They start to become brittle and break in places, causing the tree to collapse.

Another indicator of damaged roots is sudden and visible lean small shoots emerging from the tree’s base, which indicate the tree is losing its health and will die if not treated.

The roots of dying trees appear exposed and protrude from the ground, as well as swollen, indicating a lack of room to grow. You can also observe severe knots in their thin strands.

3. Look out for their Trunk

The tree trunk has vertical fissures and holes in them with various organisms crawling on them. You will see thick fungus layers on them with some of the bark missing on the trunk.

And when you scratch their bark, they have brown layers instead of juicy flesh. It means this tree is about to die.

4. Look Out for their Bark

Bark flaking from the trunk is frequently a symptom of degradation, generally caused by a fungus. In our trees, there is a silvery or white coating underneath the bark, which is a kind of disease in our trees and could be lethal for them.

You will also find some secretions on that bark which are also deadly and incurable, so it’s better to look at them first before it takes the life out of the tree.

5. Look Out for their Branches

When it comes to branches, dying trees will begin to lose leaves before the appropriate season and will keep them on the branches. 

They will seem loopy, with weak connections linking the tree to the branches, and branches will break off often. 

During the growth season, most of the leaves will be brown, black, yellow, and red instead of green and they will be even brittle.

6. Look out for their Fruits/Flowers

During the season you will see no fruits or flowers on them and even fruits or flowers growing them will be full of insects.

They will be in poor condition and have a foul odor, indicating that they have a health problem that must be addressed or they will die. 

7. Look Out for their Surroundings

When a tree dies, you may see from its surroundings that it absorbs water slowly and that its branches and leaves remain loopy even after it has absorbed water. 

A high number of mushrooms growing at the bottom or trunk of your tree may indicate severe root rot or that the tree is dead since fungus indicates that the interior of the tree is dying.

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8. Confirm their Health by Snap and Scratch Test

During a snap test, we bend the tiny branches, if they break it means your tree is dying.

In a scratch test, with the help of a small knife or by hand, we remove a portion of the tree’s bark to check if it’s green or brown. Green flesh indicates that there is no issue, in the case of a brown layer it means the tree is dying.

Factors that Cause a Tree to Become Weak 

Trees have an incredible capacity to endure various harmful substances that are always present in their surroundings.

They survive those difficulties for many years but still with passing time they become weak.

There are many reasons which make them weak then gradually result in the death of a tree. Some of them are:

Factors that effects tress health

1. Age of Trees

The average lifespan of a tree is said to be 60 years and they mostly survive for 50 to 100 years, whereas some species even survive for much longer as well if their root and shoot systems are well developed and their growing conditions are favorable.

Maybe the tree in your garden is too old and is showing symptoms of death as it’s too weak to survive further.

2. Effect of Extreme Weather

With the changing climate these days due to global warming, they are suffering from different weather conditions. Their growing environment is affected due to the climate and weather changes and of which trees are dying more than before.

3. Environmental Changes

With climate change, various disasters are also affecting their health.

For example, in some places there are wild forest fires, in some places there is drought, and in some places, there is extreme flooding due to which their health is gradually declining.

Increasing air and water pollution is also affecting them severely and they are able to survive less than before.

4. Attack of Insects and Disease

Destructive insects are greedy and frequently infest trees that are stressed due to environmental issues or illness and resulting in their death.

They not just trigger tree destruction but also transfer hazardous fungus from a host tree to nearby ones. Insects can damage the section of trees by digging for food and resting chambers and resulting in their death.

5. Improper Cutting of Trees 

Due to construction and providing raw materials to many commercial industries, big corporations cut trees in the wrong way resulting in their death even if they have not cut them fully.

Suggestions to Improve Your Tree’s Health

Can we save a dying tree? Although it’s very difficult for a tree to survive if it’s dying and we cannot perform an instant hack to avoid it.

But some preventive measures can be taken in order to avoid our trees from dying.

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1. Monitoring of Trees

Make sure that your tree is absorbing water properly and use drip irrigation for their supply otherwise water will be wasted or over-absorbed by trees resulting in diseases like root rot.

Prune the trees when it’s needed and maintain a grass-free, protected area around the trunk so they will be subjected to pest attack.

2. Care of Trees

Be careful with exposed roots and supply your trees with the sunshine they needed. Never bump into them while working in your garden.

3. Proving Fertilizer to them

Don’t believe that trees require yearly treatment. Small trees may require occasional fertilization until they are established, while older trees frequently do not require any feeding at all.

Nourish trees only if they are not developing well or have fading leaves. A soil test will determine which fertilizers are required.

4. Try to Control Pests on them

Use a natural or chemical insecticide to protect them against pest infestation as insects can severely damage them.

The pest that generally attacks dying trees are

Carpenter ants
Asian Longhorn Beetle
Black Turpentine Beetle
Balsam Wooly Adelgid
Fall Webworm
Hard and Soft Scale Insects
Western Pine Beetle
Emerald Ash Borer

5. Call an Arborist

Call a tree doctor as they have the deep knowledge to treat them for various diseases. They will provide you with a better solution.

FAQS of How to tell if a Tree is dying

Q: What Does A Tree Look Like When It Dies?

They look extremely dry and dull and when your twist their branches they break very easily.

Q: Is It Possible To Leave A Dead Tree Standing?

No, they will fall off naturally. So in order to avoid accidents remove them once they are dead.

Q: How Long Does A Tree Live?

The average Tree Lifespan the tree is said to be 60 years.

Q: Why Do Trees Become Sick?

Generally, when they become too old and not able to absorb nutrients and water they become sick.

Q: How To Determine If A Tree Is Dying?

You can observe the condition of their leaves, roots, trunk, bark, and branches. You can also test them using the Snap and Scratch tests.

Q: Can we save a dying tree?

Yea, a tree can be saved but it depends on a lot of factors like the level of damage and the environment. If correct action has been taken on the time, the Tree can be saved.

Final Thought:

If we use our observation skills, we can easily know how to tell if a tree is dying and remove it before it causes problems in our surroundings.

If your tree is still alive and healthy, you can definitely take care of it and keep it fit and fine.