Sometimes it’s a bit hard to tell if a tree is dead or alive. It’s not always obvious to a person without proper qualifications and experience. Taking too quick decisions can lead to cutting a tree that was generally fine and might be saved and live on. On the contrary, in some cases, a dying tree may be diseased and threat the surrounding garden or a hazard to fall and cause damage. It’s quite important to know how to determine a tree’s condition with basic signs. But we still recommend you to call for qualified tree specialists and ask for a consultation.
If a tree doesn’t start to grow new leaves in spring when it’s expected, it may be a bad sign. In some cases, it’s not critical, but always pay attention to the time when a tree starts to regrow its crown in spring. The timing must not be delayed. If it is, it may tell about the tree’s lack of water, nutrients and energy. Trees mostly postpone foliage blossom if they don’t have enough resources because of disease. Or, in the saddest case, the tree is already dead.
The first and simplest test to make the primary conclusion is to take an attentive look at the tree. Walk around and examine the trunk and branches: pull limbs a bit and pickle the bark. If they crack easily or fall off without any serious effort — these branches are dead. If a tree has a lot of such branches, you should be concerned.
Another case is when a tree has a lack of leaves all over its foliage or in some parts. If a tree all of a sudden starts to lose leaves when it’s not supposed to, call an arborist company to let them have a look at the tree. Also, notice that if a tree has rotten parts or fungus, it’s not right for your yard tree.
If your tree doesn’t yet have foliage, but its limbs don’t break easily and you can’t decide what to do next — there is a simple test. Take a small young branch and peel it a bit. All trees have an under-bark layer just between wood and bark — healthy trees have a green and wet one. If it’s dark and dry, it’s time to ring the alarm. This may not work well if you take this test only on one branch. One dead branch over a tree is quite normal and may be caused by several natural reasons. Scratch at least 3 or 4 limbs from different parts of the tree to make sure you conclude it right.
If you had a recent pruning and now feel that your tree is not alright, take a closer look at the branch cuts. They must be performed right and have a downward angle in order not to gather rainwater. Also, the cut branch must be short enough to be naturally covered by fresh bark. If a tree has improper cuts, it’s exposed to diseases and insects. If you notice such cuts, they are highly possible the reason of your tree’s bad feeling.
You must remember that the old age of a tree is an additional factor to weaken its immune system. If your tree is an old and large one, pay more attention to it — maybe, you can help it to live longer at some point if you notice a sign of malfunctions.
Anyway, despite you can detect signs of the close tree’s death or its bad condition, don’t take any measures by yourself. The final verdict must be always made by pros — so don’t hesitate to call your local tree service company and order an examination. It will definitely save you effort, money and maybe health and safety of your property.