If you have a tree on your property, it is good to know the signs of a dying one so you can give it the care it needs before it’s too late. To help you understand the process, read these signs that tell you a tree is dying.

The Tree Trunk

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  • Vertical cracks on the tree

  • Missing bark on the tree trunk

  • Cankers or areas of dead bark

  • If you scratch the trunk and see the inner layer of bark is brown, your tree is dead

Signs From The Tree's Branches

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  • Losing leaves before the correct season

  • Holding onto dead leaves on branches

  • Weak joints connecting tree to branches

  • Brown and brittle leaves during growing season

Signs of Damaged Roots

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  • The tree develops a sudden and noticeable lean

  • Small branches sprouting from the base of the tree

  • Roots may turn slimy

Fungus & Critters

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  • Large fungus on a tree can indicate that the tree is rotting inside

  • Bark beetles, carpenter ants, or other insects are signs of a dying tree

New Environment

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  • If things around the tree have been moved it could be experiencing more light or wind

  • Nearby construction could damage the tree’s roots


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  • Avoid bumping the tree with tools when doing yard work

  • Be gentle around exposed roots

  • Leave room around tree so that it can breathe and absorb light

  • Water your trees if you have been in a drought

  • Prune your trees when needed

  • Plant trees in areas where they have room to grow fully

  • Prune at the right time of the year


For more information on the topic, check out this article that we wrote for TCIA


certified treecare safety professional