How to Identify a Dead Tree that Needs to Be Removed

How to Identify a Dead Tree that Needs to Be Removed

how long can a dead tree remain standingIdentifying whether a tree is dead or living can sometimes be a very tricky task – especially in the winter time when every tree can look dead. While it is possible, yet sometimes difficult, to revive some sick or dying trees it is impossible to bring a dead tree back to life. There are many reasons that you should remove a dead tree which we will touch on in this post. Furthermore, you should call a professional tree service company to work the job instead of attempting it yourself. But how exactly can you tell if a tree is dead, sick, or healthy? Here are a few signs that can help you determine exactly this question and what steps to take after.

Things to check for on a dead tree

The first thing that you need to do is inspect the actual tree in question. There are a few visual signs that will help you out as well as some tests you can perform on the tree itself.

Fungus Growth

Take a look around the tree’s trunk and base of the trunk. Do you see any fungus growing? Fungus is an initial sign that the tree could be dead. If you spot fungus on the trunk this is often an indication that the internals of the tree trunk are actually rotted out and anything beyond the living fungus is dead.

Tree Trunk Damage

Keeping your focus on the actual tree trunk itself, give it a good visual inspection. Look for cracks that are running vertically along it. If the trunk has severe damage this increases the likelihood that the tree is in bad health. Check to see if the tree has bark. As trees age bark will fall off of the trunk and if healthy grow back to replace the old stuff. If a tree isn’t as healthy you will see areas, large or small, on the trunk that are just smooth areas of wood with no bark covering it.

Check for Bare Branches

Take a look at the trees’ branches. If they’re abnormally bare during a time when they shouldn’t be – such as Spring or Summer – there’s a good chance the tree is too far gone to save. Sometimes branches on only half of a tree are bare and the other side are full. This would signal that the tree is diseased only on one side in which case could cause a tree to become lopsided and fall due to the weight. If the tree is deciduous check to see if the leaves cling onto the branches in the winter instead of falling off as this is another sign the tree may be dead.

Perform Scratch or Break Test

Performing a scratch test is an easy way to tell the health of a tree. Use a small knife to scratch the outside of one of the tree’s branches. If the inside is green and moist the tree is healthy. Try this on a few more branches in different areas of the tree. If they are all green and moist the tree is in good shape. You can also perform a break test which is the same thing except instead of scratching the outside you can attempt to break the branches to check the inside.

How to tell if a tree is dead in the winter

Determining if a tree is dead in the winter is a little bit more difficult because dormant trees can look just like a dead tree. One thing you can look for however is if the tree has buds on the branches. Even in the winter time a tree should show signs of buds. You can also perform the scratch test here as well for further determination.

How to determine if a dead tree should be removed

how to tell if a tree needs to be cut downMore often than not a dead tree should always be removed, particularly by a tree service expert. Here’s how to determine if the tree is ok to leave be or if it needs to go.

  • If it’s in a remote area the tree can be left alone: Dead trees in remote areas can serve as a place for various species of woodpeckers and other wildlife to nest.
  • If 50% of the tree is damaged, it should be removed: At this point it is probably too far along in the process to be able to revive it.
  • Near hazardous conditions: If a dead tree is near any sort of hazardous condition it should immediately be removed due to safety concerns
  • If it could benefit nearby trees’ health: Determine if by removing the tree it will also benefit the health of the surrounding trees in the area. It can often help stymie disease from spreading to the other trees around it.

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