Identify the Warning Signs of Dying Trees

The trees in your landscape offer many useful services in addition to their aesthetics: they provide shade, habitat for wildlife, and entertainment if they’re big enough to climb or hang a swing from. Some bear delicious fruit to eat. If they’re close enough to your house, they can help mitigate heating and cooling costs. We love our trees for all these reasons and want to take good care of them; however, it can sometimes be quite difficult to tell when a tree is suffering. Dying trees often exhibit easy-to-spot clues such as leafless branches, but some diseases are more insidious and tougher to identify. .
tree fungus

Though the tree may appear fine, it may be internally weakened; fallen branches from dying trees during a storm can cause significant amounts of damage. Familiarize yourself with the warning signs that a tree isn’t doing well so that you can help save them and protect your home.

Unusual bark appearance: Have you noticed the bark changing on one of your trees–falling off in some places, or splitting in others? Check your trees regularly for fissures running up the trunk, as this is a spot of weakness that may cause the tree to crack or fall under wind pressure.

Monitor the leaves: If your tree lacks its usual amount of foliage, that’s a sure sign that it is dying. Maybe only a few branches are leafless–in this case, you can simply have the dead and dying branches removed. You may want to bring in an expert to determine what caused those branches to suffer and make sure it is not a disease infecting the rest of the tree that will cause further dead branches down the road.

Insects or fungus: Pests like carpenter ants and bark beetles only prey on trees that are already distressed, so when they’re present it’s a sign that the tree isn’t doing well. Fungus only grows in moist environments, so if you notice it growing on your tree or around the base, it’s likely that your tree is experiencing rot to some degree. When fungus appears, it’s important to check on your tree or get a professional inspection to make sure your home or property are not in danger of damage. Rot in particular is concerning because it can reach the inner depths of the tree, weakening not just the branches but the core of the tree itself.

Root damage: Did you know that in many tree species, individual roots directly correspond with specific branches? This means that if one section of root gets damaged, you’ll see some branches get damaged as well. If your tree has lots of exposed roots, be careful when mowing around it. Slicing or frequently walking on the roots can cause significant damage. Even if you don’t notice root damage, you can watch for signs of damaged roots by watching the branches–look for yellowing or wilted leaves, little annual growth, or dead branches.

Try the scratch test: Right underneath the outer bark is an inner layer called the cambium. This layer will be green and soft if the tissue is living, and brown and hard if it is dead. While this is easier to try on saplings and trees with thinner bark, it still works for trees of any size.

From dying trees to fungus-infested sod, Big Earth Landscape Supply is here to help you deal with all of your landscaping issues. Shop our online store today, or stop by one of our 4 area locations to speak with an associate.