4 Signs That Your Tree is Dying and What You Can Do

While some trees last for hundreds of years, sadly, like all living things, all trees die eventually. While there have been cases of trees living for 5,000 years, some trees only last 40 or 50 years, so if you move into an older property with trees in the garden, then they may already be at the end of their natural life. So how do you know when a tree is dying, and is tree removal always necessary? Here are some of the key things to look out for.

  1. Bare branches

Unless it’s the dead of winter, your tree should have some signs of life on its branches. A tree without leaves in the spring or summer months can be a sign that it has died. However, if you spot leaves on your tree in the winter, this can also be a sign of tree death. Trees should naturally shed their leaves, but if they’re clinging to the branch, then your tree might have died.

  1. Weak joints

Branches that are loose and weak could indicate a dead or dying tree. Check the joints, which is where the branches meet the trunk, to see if they are sturdy. Weak joints can be dangerous, as it means branches can come loose during bad weather, so it’s important to get them checked over. They can sometimes be caused by branches growing close together, so bring in a professional to check the tree over.

  1. Damaged roots

Damaged roots are difficult to spot, as they are hidden underground, but there are a few things that can alert you to damaged roots:

  • Leaning trees
  • Epicormics shoots – these branches spout near the trunk of the tree, showing stress
  • Reduced growth
  • Leaves falling too early

These symptoms usually appear slowly, and worsen over time. Therefore, if you spot any of these issues, it’s best to get the tree looked over to see if it can be salvaged before the damage gets worse.

  1. Damaged trunk

Keep an eye on the trunk of your tree. Trees naturally develop vertical cracks as they age, with the bark falling off. In a healthy tree, there will be a layer of new bark underneath. Trees that are dead or diseased won’t grow this new layer of bark, so trunks that have a bare trunk or only a small amount of bark may well be at the end of their life.

Why should you get rid of a dying tree?

You might be wondering why a dead or dying tree is such a problem. After all, you might not notice it if it’s tucked away in your back yard. Here are a few reasons that a dead or dying tree should be removed.


A dead tree is not something that looks good in your garden. Without leaves and bark, they look pretty depressing, and can make the entire garden look neglected. Have it removed and you’ll reclaim the space, allowing you to plant something new.

Protecting other trees

If your tree has died because of a disease, it’s important to get it removed. Any disease can infect the other trees in your garden, leading to a costly problem. It’s much better to pay to get one tree removed, rather than risking all your garden’s greenery.

Attracting pests

Dead trees may not be attractive to your eyes, but to termites or rats they can be home. Unfortunately, this then puts the rest of your garden at risk, and means these pests could soon move on to infect your home. While you might not care about a dead tree getting infested, it can be worrying having pests in close proximity to your property.

How can I protect your trees?

While the death of a tree can sometimes be unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to prevent tree death.

  • Give your trees space – keep the area around your tree clear, so it can breathe and get enough water
  • Have your trees regularly pruned
  • Have trees checked as soon as they show any of the above signs of dying
  • Water your tree during dry spells – many people water the rest of the garden, but forget about their trees.

Some tree deaths can be prevented if caught in time, but it’s important to get expert advice so that the problem can be diagnosed properly.

If you have any problems with your trees, it’s important to get them checked by professionals. As with illnesses in humans, the earlier it’s caught, the better the chance of saving the tree. A tree expert will be able to diagnose the problem, and make suggestions for the best course of action. A dying tree won’t necessarily need to be removed, there may be other ways to address the problem.