The unhealthy tree in your backyard might be causing concern –– its odd tilt, hollow trunk, or the growth of fungi is a reason to worry. A fierce storm or a windy day could easily knock down this weakening tree. While some problems can be fixed by a pro, here are 10 signs indicating it’s time to remove a tree.
At times, these signals might not be obvious, which means you’ll need a certified tree expert to examine your tree. If removal is necessary, you’ll almost always have to hire a specialist. While taking down healthy trees might be doable as a DIY project, cutting down sick or dying trees involves much greater safety risks.
1. Indications of Damage or Decay
When a tree displays signs of damage or decay, its structural strength is often compromised, raising safety concerns, especially if it’s in close proximity to your home.
If your tree exhibits any of these signals of damage or decay, it might be time to consider removal:
- Vertical cracks in the trunk
- Unusual peeling of bark
- Stubs of dead branches
- Visible wounds or cavities
- Severe trunk damage
- Broken wood from lightning strikes
Following a storm, it’s prudent to arrange for a tree inspection, especially if you’re in the vicinity of Columbus, Ohio. Engaging the services of a certified arborist from a reputable tree service Columbus Ohio can offer invaluable insights. They can meticulously assess the damage incurred by the tree and make informed judgments on whether tree removal is imperative for safety and the preservation of your property
2. Hollow Tree Condition
While a hollow tree might be a charming backdrop for a family photo, it’s actually a sign that the tree is weakening or dealing with internal decay.
Sometimes falling limbs reveal hollow areas that can become homes for owls and squirrels. If you spot fluffy heads peeking from your tree, it could indicate hollowness.
However, it’s recommended to avoid removing a tree, especially if it’s home to wildlife, without seeking expert advice. Consult your local arborist to assess the tree’s health.
Pro Tip: Not all hollow tree signs are visible. You can tap different parts of the tree with a rubber mallet (known as “sounding” the tree) to check for hollowness. Yet, having a tree care specialist examine the tree is prudent, as their trained ears can detect even subtle sound variations.
3. Presence of Dead Branches
Dead branches may signify disease, pests, or other stressors affecting the tree. While an occasional dead branch isn’t alarming (pruning can address this), multiple dead branches could point to an underlying problem.
You can identify a dead branch with these traits: Intact, firmly attached bark Brittle and easily broken when flexed Lack of foliage and buds during the growth season Green layer revealed under light scraping Sizeable dead branches pose risks in the landscape. Wind gusts or heavy snow can cause them to fall, potentially causing damage.
Pro Tip: Watch for branches that rub against each other, as this can create wounds that expose the tree to disease.
4. Presence of Fungal Disease
Those mushrooms sprouting at the tree’s base might set off alarm bells. The growth of fungi on your tree is a telltale sign of disease. While certain diseases are treatable, they could also spell doom for the infected tree or even nearby healthy trees.
Apart from visible fungi, here are some additional indicators of tree disease to be aware of:
- Leaves or needles wilting, falling, or changing color
- Depressions on the wood surface
- Scabs on fruits
- Bleeding cankers
- Stunted growth
- Small, pimple-like structures producing spores
5. Tree Death or Decline
If a certified arborist confirms that your tree has perished, the only option is removal. While a tree care expert might salvage a tree afflicted by disease, there’s no revival for a dead tree.
Observable signs of a dead or dying tree encompass:
- Lack of leaves or buds during the growing season
- A pronounced lean in the trunk
- Dead branches
- Thinning canopy, needle drop, or browning needle tips in evergreen trees
- Manifestation of disease or insect symptoms
6. Noticeable or Recent Leaning
A slight lean in a tree is natural (one side might be heavier). Yet, if your tree’s lean becomes significantly pronounced, altering its overall structure or if it suddenly develops a lean it lacked before, it’s time to question its health.
When a tree exhibits a new lean or its existing lean seems to threaten uprooting, consult an arborist. This shift could point to decay or storm damage.
7. Tree in a Hazardous Spot
Sometimes a tree might be in perfect health, but its placement raises concerns. If a tree stands perilously close to your residence, power lines, or other structures, a tree expert might recommend removal. No homeowner wants a hazardous tree crashing into their roof or causing power outages.
8. Presence of Invasive Trees
Invasive trees might boast aesthetic appeal, yet they can detrimentally affect your landscape’s health by outcompeting native trees, reducing biodiversity, and disrupting the ecosystem.
Invasive trees include:
- Chinese tallow
- Chinaberry trees
- Bradford pear trees
- White poplar
- Mimosa (or silk) trees
- Tree of heaven
- Black locust
9. Indications of Root Rot
A tree plagued by root rot isn’t necessarily beyond saving. Aggressive treatment could combat the infection, although an arborist might still recommend removal if the tree poses safety risks.
Spotting root rot signs is challenging. Why? Because assessing underground tree roots requires more than just human eyesight, and root rot symptoms often mimic other issues.
Signs of root rot encompass:
- Impaired growth
- Weak, decaying branches
- Wilting or discolored leaves
- Thinning canopy
- Fungus sprouting from roots
- Cankers or sunken wood
10. Presence of Insect Damage
Who would think that a tiny insect could wreak havoc on a massive tree? Insect infestations might not always spell the end for your tree, but pests like the emerald ash borer can lead to its demise.
Certain insects exclusively target dead or dying trees, like the banded ash borer. So, if you notice signs of insect damage on your tree, it could indicate an existing problem that necessitates removal.
When your tree displays these symptoms, insects might be the culprits:
- Large silken tents on branches
- Circular or D-shaped exit holes
- S-shaped or zigzag tunnels within the wood
- Visible larvae on the tree
- Stunted growth
- Clusters of eggs
- Leaf damage or defoliation