Tree Dying In Your Backyard? How To Tell And What To Do

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Last Updated on November 21, 2022 by Gary Stephen

Trees are essential in a home as they provide shade, obstruct wind, boost your home’s aesthetics, reduce pollution, and improve air quality. Unlike flowers or shrubs, trees can live for decades or centuries. For instance, an oak or pine tree can live up for 200 years, while a maple tree can live up for 100 years. However, these trees can die prematurely due to diseases, harmful insects, fungi, and starvation. 

When your tree is affected by some of these conditions, it’s essential to act quickly before the issue spreads to the surrounding trees or falls and damages your property. Therefore, it’s essential to learn the symptoms of dying trees and how to treat them to protect your home.

Symptoms Of A Dying Tree

Tree dying

There are many signs of a sick or dying tree that you can look out for to know if your trees need help. These signs include:

  • Poor Structure

A structurally unstable tree is an obvious sign of a dying or sick tree. This is because a tree with weak and unstable branches is more likely to split in the middle or fall, causing damage your property. These symptoms are mainly caused by severe storms or poor pruning. To rectify the issue, consider seeking tree services for pruning or removal. 

  • Peeling Bark

Another sign that your tree is sick or dying is peeling bark. The bark is an essential part of trees as it protects the tree’s core and keeps it healthy. Although it’s normal for trees to experience a little bark peeling, excessive bark peeling should be alarming. Excessive bark peeling makes the tree unable to maintain nutrients, thus leading to its death. 

  • Decay 

This can be difficult to identify as decay affects the inside of a tree first. However, you may start noticing abnormal growths or fungus on your tree. For instance, fungi known as ‘fomes fomentarius,’ which are hard and hoof-shaped, indicate that your tree is experiencing internal decay. Other symptoms of decay include dead branches, an expanded base, and soft, breakable wood.

  • Fluid Discharge

If you notice your tree discharging a foamy fluid, it could be alcoholic white flux. The fluid is mainly discharged at the tree base and signifies that it is stressed by drought or heat. The fluid has a fermenting odor similar to beer. This stress-related disease mainly affects  oak, sweet gum, elm, and willow trees. The fluid discharge may not necessarily kill trees, but it leads to excessive bark peeling, which is hazardous to the tree.

  • Yellow Or Brown Leaves 

Yellow or brown leaves and slowed tree growth are indications that your tree has a deadly disease known as armillaria root rot. With this disease, you may also notice severe wilting and dead branches. 

Trees with the disease may take several years to die, but this can accelerate if the tree isn’t maintained properly.   

How To Save A Dying Tree

Now that you know the signs of a dying tree, it’s time to learn what you should do to prevent the trees from dying. However, before saving a dying tree, you have to identify the reason why the tree is dying. That’s why you should work with a qualified arborist to help you determine the problem. Some ways to save dying trees include:

  • Prune The Sick Limbs

One of the best ways to save a dying tree is by removing all the diseased areas from the tree. This includes dead branches, abnormal growths, and fungi. Pruning these sections helps prevent the illnesses from spreading to other parts of the tree. Before pruning, research proper pruning techniques appropriate for your trees because there’s a proper pruning technique for each. Improper pruning can send a tree into shock, thus doing more harm than good to the tree.  Additionally, ensure to sterilize your knives, shears, or saws before and after pruning the diseased sections.    

  • Correct Moisture Issues

These are the main reasons trees die since many tree diseases are caused by too much or too little water. If over-watering is the issue, you’ll identify moss and mold growth, and the tree’s roots will become soft and soggy. To rectify the issue, consider introducing more sunlight or look for ways to drain water from the area. On the other hand, if underwatering is the issue, you must regularly water the trees with a garden hose or use buckets. However, learn to measure the amount of water to avoid drowning the soil with too much water.

  • Use The Proper Mulching Technique

Mulching isn’t necessarily bad; in fact, it’s one of the best ways to nourish the soil around your tree. However, when too much mulch is used, it can be detrimental to your tree. Too much mulch causes the roots and trunk to rot and prevents the roots from breathing. It also attracts insects, fungi, and bacteria which can lead to a tree’s death.


The tale of Two Trees

If your tree is sick or dying, there’s still a chance to save it. Identify the signs that your tree is dying, then use the above tips to help save the tree. If you cannot identify the problem causing your tree to die, consider reaching out to an arborist for help.

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