How to Tell if a Tree is Dying: 7 Red Flags

Trees provide numerous benefits to people, such as improving air quality, reducing noise pollution and enhancing the overall aesthetics of the environment. We need to also ensure we are caring for them so that they can thrive.

Just like when a person is sick, trees are also living and therefore give you some signs and symptoms of disease and sickness before completely dying. These vital signs should not be ignored as they can help you treat and heal the problem before things get out of hand.

The our team of professional arborists have carefully compiled seven signs of a dying tree that you can notice to help you know what to look out for and when to intervene and take action before it’s too late.

7 Important Signs of a Dying Tree – Sick Tree Symptoms

Here are some of the most important signs of a sick tree that you shouldn’t ignore. You should carefully inspect and analyse your trees to monitor if they are suffering from the following issues.

1. Dead Branches or No Leavesdead-branches-of-a-tree

When you notice a tree having no leaves, dead leaves, or one that is covered in dead foliage. It serves as a clear indication that the tree is experiencing illness. This absence of leaves signifies that the tree is not healthy and demands attention to ensure its well-being.

2. Falling Bark


If you witness tree bark peeling off and falling, it signifies a potential decay or disease within the core of the tree trunk. This alarming sign of the tree’s bark falling off highlights the need for immediate action to address the underlying issues and prevent further deterioration of the tree’s health.

3. Visible Rot or Fungus


The presence of rot or fungus on a tree acts as a strong indicator of decay and an impending decline. These visible signs show that the tree is dying, emphasising the urgency to intervene and implement appropriate measures to improve its condition.

4. Leaning Tree Trunk


A tree that leans significantly signals not only structural instability but also the likelihood of declining health. This leaning tree trunk is a sign of a weakened foundation, demanding evaluation and necessary interventions to ensure its longevity and overall safety.

5. Open Wounds


The presence of open wounds on the trunk or torn branches of a tree signifies potential damage or infection that can contribute to tree death. These vulnerable areas expose the tree’s susceptibility to various threats and necessitate immediate attention to prevent further harm and promote healing.

6. Cracked or Split Trunk


A cracked or split trunk is a visible sign of a struggling tree in almost all tree species and is often caused by damage or some internal issues. Seek expert advice to prevent further harm and support the tree’s recovery.
If you notice a tree’s trunk oozing sap or leaving sawdust, it could be a sign of internal decay or pest infestation. Act promptly to address these issues before they worsen.

7. Exposed Roots


Exposed tree roots suggest soil erosion or root damage. This can impact the tree’s stability and overall health. Take measures to protect and strengthen the roots.

What To Do If I See Signs of a Sick or Dying Tree?


If you observe signs of a sick or dying tree on your property, it’s crucial to take immediate action to address the issue and ensure the well-being of your green assets. Here’s what you should do:

  • Assess the situation: Carefully evaluate the tree and identify any visible signs of decay, disease, or structural instability. Look for symptoms such as bare branches, falling bark, visible rot, fungus, a leaning trunk, or open wounds.
  • Consult an arborist: Seek professional advice from a certified arborist who specialises in tree health and management. They have the expertise to accurately diagnose the problem, recommend appropriate treatments, and guide the best course of action.
  • Implement necessary measures: Based on the arborist’s assessment, follow their recommendations for addressing the specific issues affecting your tree. This may involve treatments such as pruning, fertilisation, pest control, or disease management.
  • Monitor and maintain: Regularly monitor the tree’s progress and continue to provide proper care and maintenance. This includes watering, mulching, and ensuring adequate sunlight. Take proactive steps to prevent future problems and promote the long-term health of the tree.
  • Consider professional removal if necessary: In some cases, a severely diseased or structurally compromised tree may need to be removed to prevent safety hazards or further damage. If removal is recommended, consult with a reputable tree service for safe and efficient removal.

Remember, early intervention is key when dealing with sick or dying trees. By seeking professional advice and taking appropriate action, you can increase the chances of saving the tree or preventing the spread of diseases to other trees on your property.

How to Heal and Rejuvenate a Dying Tree?

If you have a tree on your property that is dying, it’s crucial to take action before it’s too late. The following steps can help you heal and rejuvenate your dying trees.

Proper watering: Ensure that the tree receives sufficient water. Use a garden hose set on a high stream and water the tree for 1 to 2 minutes, taking care not to drown the soil.

Pruning and removing dead/diseased branches: Remove any dead or diseased branches, as they can hinder the tree’s recovery. Dispose of them away from the tree to prevent further spread of disease.

  • Address root issues: Check the health of the tree’s root system. If there are any visible problems, consult an arborist for appropriate treatments.
  • Treat for pests and diseases: Conduct regular tree care and maintenance, including proper pruning, and treating for fungal or bacterial infections, and tree diseases. This will help improve the tree’s overall health.
  • Provide adequate sunlight: Ensure that the tree receives enough sunlight as it is essential for its growth and rejuvenation.

Remember, professional advice from a certified arborist may be necessary to accurately diagnose the tree’s condition and recommend the most effective solutions. By taking these steps, you can increase the chances of healing and rejuvenating your dying tree.

What if it’s Too Late to Save the Dying Tree?

If you’ve reached a point where it’s too late to save the dying tree and the tree has already died then there are still some steps you can take to address the situation:

Contact a professional tree service: Reach out to a reputable tree removal company like Apex Arborists which specialises in tree removal. They have the expertise and equipment to safely and efficiently remove a dead tree or multiple dead trees from your property.
Note: A dead tree poses a threat to your property as it can fall in any direction without a warning. Therefore getting a dead tree removed as soon as possible is the best thing that you can do.

Consider replanting: After removing the dying tree, you may want to consider replanting a new tree in its place. Choose a species that is suitable for your climate and soil conditions, and ensure proper planting techniques are followed.

Learn from the experience: Take the opportunity to understand why the tree deteriorated and learn from it. Assess factors such as inadequate care, disease or pest infestation, or environmental stressors, and make adjustments to prevent similar issues in the future.

Maintain healthy trees: Focus on the maintenance and care of your remaining trees. Regularly monitor their health, implement proper watering and fertilisation practices, and promptly address any signs of disease or distress.

Hire a Professional to Handle Your Dead or Dying Tree

When it comes to handling dead or dying trees, Apex Arborists is the go-to tree care company. With our extensive experience as arborists servicing the Hamilton, Waikato, and Waipa regions, we are well-equipped to address all your tree health needs.

We offers a range of services for both residential and commercial properties, providing complete tree solutions. Whether you need assistance with tree removal, disease management, or general tree care, our team of qualified arborists is ready to help.

What sets Apex Arborists apart is our commitment to professionalism and expertise. Our knowledgeable arborists understand the complexities of tree health and take a proactive approach to address issues promptly.

Don’t let your trees die and look for signs of illness before it’s too late. Trust Apex Arborists to handle the job professionally and effectively, ensuring the health and well-being of these gentle giants.

Picture of Dylan Heath

Dylan Heath

Dylan Heath is a fully qualified arborist with over 13 years of experience working in both the private and local council sectors. He comes with a wealth of knowledge, skill and passion for arboriculture.