4 Signs That Your Tree May Be Dead And Need Removal

Are you worried that a tree in your yard may be dead? It can be difficult to tell, especially after the winter storms have come and gone. Some trees take a little while to recover from the harsh winter weather and may appear dead until the season changes; other trees may be dead but may still appear to simply be dormant. 

1. Break Off a Low Hanging Branch

Find a small, low hanging branch and break it off -- or just bend it. A living tree branch will be bendable and will resist breaking, whereas a dead tree branch should just crack off. If you do pull the branch off, look at the branch itself and try to break it in half. Again, a living tree branch should bend rather than simply snapping in half, whereas a dead tree branch will break readily. You can also inspect the inside of the tree branch: if it is moist, the tree is still alive.

2. Peel Off Some of the Tree Bark

Wait until the area has been dry for some time -- don't do this just after rain fall. Using a small knife, remove some of the tree bark on your tree and look for either sap or moisture. A dead tree will be dry inside, whereas a living tree should still be moist. Make sure that you dig below the bark, as the bark itself is usually quite dry. 

3. Look for Any New Growth

If there are small, growing bumps anywhere on the tree, the tree is still alive. It may just be struggling. Some trees -- particularly new trees -- need some additional care to survive temperature extremes. Consider adding some fertilizer and watering the tree to see if it may bounce back. (In some situations, a tree might actually be over-watered. You might want to consult with a yard service.)

4. Inspect for Rotting Leaves

Dead leaves should always drop from a healthy tree. If there are trees that are rotting on the branches, then the tree has already died. You can tell rotting leaves by their color and texture; they will turn brown and sag, looking ragged. 

A tree that shows slow growth rather than being entirely dead can usually be brought back through some conscientious care. A tree that is truly dead or cannot be recovered should be immediately removed by a tree removal service. Trees can be incredibly dangerous when dead; they can fall and damage anything in proximity.