Is My Tree Dead? 5 Ways to Tell if a Tree Is Past Saving

The beautiful tree in your garden isn’t looking so beautiful this year. It hasn’t grown any leaves, mushrooms are poking out from the trunk, and a recent windstorm has made it lean sideways. So you start wondering, “Is my tree dead or just sick?”

Although healthy trees often have some dead branches or drooping leaves, more serious warning signs can help you know how to tell if a tree is dead.

Read on to see five ways to tell if a tree is dying and needs to be removed.

1. No Green Leaves for a Full Season

According to one expert, a tree is probably dead if it has no green leaves for a full growing season. However, even healthy trees can fail to produce leaves during a drought, so if you’ve just been through a drought wait to see what happens when the weather changes.

2. Large Vertical Crack

Tree trunks can crack in many different circumstances, such as when the tree twists in the wind or gets struck by lightning. A tree with large vertical cracks in the trunk may never recover.

3. The Trunk Is Leaning

If your tree starts to lean, the roots may have started to break or weaken. A tree that leans out more than 15 degrees should be removed.

Trees can also be knocked sideways by a strong windstorm. Large trees that have tipped in strong winds are unlikely to recover and should be removed, especially if the tree forms a hazard to the surrounding area.

4. It Fails the Scratch Test

A scratch test will tell you if the tree still has life in it. Scrape the bark off of a small branch or limb to see what’s underneath. If you find green, moist tissue, the tree is still alive, but there is no green, moist tissue, the branch is dead.

If a tree passes the scratch test, you can wait to see if the tree recovers when the rain starts or when the season changes. However, if the tree starts to drop branches or chunks of bark, it’s probably completely dead.

5. The Tree Has Started to Rot

A hollow tree isn’t necessarily dangerous, because the tissue that keeps a tree alive is usually found on the outside of the trunk. However, if a third of the interior of the tree is hollow or rotten, you should remove it. When a tree starts rotting from the inside, the trunk weakens and the tree can become structurally unstable.

If you find fungi growing on a tree trunk or at the base of a tree, it may mean that the trunk has started to rot internally. This rot can extend into the tree, so if you see this warning sign, consult an arborist immediately by following this link! (Don’t worry about mushrooms growing underneath trees.)

Is My Tree Dead?

Are you still wondering, “Is my tree dead?” If your tree shows some of these warning signs, call an arborist. An expert can diagnose the tree and tell you if you need dead tree removal, or if your tree will survive many more years.

If you enjoyed reading this, check out our blog for more articles on home improvement.

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