Most people find comfort being around nature. They truly enjoy it when they are near trees and gardens. They feel relaxed and at peach with all the greens around them. However, at some point in their lives, they would notice that the environment is not as vibrant as it was before. There seemed to be a gloomy and dry feeling looming in. It may not be apparent but dying trees may cause this eerie feeling. As such, everyone should know how to tell if a tree is dead.

12 Signs That a Tree Is Dying and Their Solutions


Leaning Trunk

A tree usually grows in a vertical position. But if you want to know how to tell if a tree is dead, you have to check if it has been in a leaning position recently. While trees usually lean due to the presence of other root systems, a tree may be of hazard when the trunk has leaned and the roots have lifted the soil.


To address a leaning trunk, you can remove, stake, or prune to limit foliage that the wind can push. You also have to check if the soil has issues on drainage. A temporary covering may help for the soil to become steady.


Weak Branches

Branches are weak when the intersection is forming a “V” shape. The normal curve is a “U” shape as it means that there is enough room for wood tissue to grow. A weak branch is usually caused by compression or tearing. Presence of insect larvae can also weaken the limbs.


Pruning and guying can help eradicate this. Check first if pruning or guying would produce significant effects on the immediate surroundings of a tree.


Cracked Trunk

Trees usually have cracks in the bark or trunk. Yet, this is not true for all tree species. There are trees that have smooth bark for years while there are some that develop a rough surface.


Before deciding whether to eradicate or preserve a plant, consider first the tree type and size and the appearance of the crack. If the damage is severe, it may be wise to cull the entire plant. If the damage is just minor, then pruning may be enough. Cabling or using fastening hardware may also help in restoring the tree.


Gap near the lower trunk

If you are wondering how to tell if a tree is dead, check if there is a gap or space near the lower trunk. The tree may have swung in different directions during windy or rainy weather, thus pushing soil to the side and leaving a gap. Poor root system or inferior soil drainage may have caused this.


If the tree is huge, it may not be wise to raise the root system. The best option would be to uproot and replace the plant.


Particles by the trunk

Insects usually inhabit trees. Some would even chew the bark and create small holes in the wood. Tiny particles would appear near the trunk. When this happens, the tree weakens and becomes damaged further.


Usually, a tree with this type of damage is removed. However, the use of pesticide or treatments can still save a tree if damage is just minor. A professional can also be involved in the restoration of the tree.


Hollow Cavities

A good practice on how to tell if a tree is dead is checking if trunks and branches have hollow cavities or mushrooms. The presence of fungi is usually a sign of decay, especially if they came from the wood itself. Injuries or sunburn may have caused the hollow cavities on the bark.


It may be better to consult an arborist when deciding whether to preserve or eradicate trees. If the decay is quite huge, it is usually hazardous for the tree and the arborist would know the best approach for the tree.


Heavy Plant Parts

Some trees, when damaged, usually develop heavy cones or plant parts. This is not common but it happens in certain countries and to certain trees.


To resolve this, use fencing, covers, or arbors. The removal of the plant parts is also another option.


Multiple Trunks

Another good practice in knowing how to tell if a tree is dead is checking for the presence of multiple trunks. When the union of the stems is weak (V-shaped instead of U-shaped), one would usually notice a splitting in the middle.


You could correct this by having structure support hardware. To make the cabling more effective, the trees must be directly opposite each other. Another solution could be moderate pruning.


Broken Branches

When branches are cracked and are dangling, then the tree is dying. Professional arborists call them hangers. They are harmful, especially if found in places where people usually gather in.


These hanging branches should be removed, depending on the location and degree of hazard. The removal is usually delayed when there is wildlife involved. Signs, fences, and barricades should be used to inform and warn people.


Presence of Deadwood

This just means that all the branches are dead. The branches weaken as days go by and might pose injuries once they fall.


Pruning can remove deadwood. When there is a lot of deadwood present, there is a tendency for fires to occur more often.


Difference in trunk diameter

When plants were small, they were usually grafted through the help of a wire, rope, or some other material. As it grew, the bark may have adjusted to the material wrapped around the trunk. Because the trunk is girdled, the flow of nutrients can become constricted. This weakens certain parts of the tree and causes differences in trunk diameter.


If the rope or wire is still in the trunk, remove it using pliers, as long as the bark is not ripped away. Consult a professional for more complicated situations.



If you want to know how to tell if a tree is dead or dying, check its history. Understand the conditions that caused the tree to appear as it is today.


A tree’s history should be left to trained professionals. They know how certain conditions could have contributed to the decay of the tree.


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