Trees are beautiful! Not only do they provide shade and improve the air and water around them, they also help hold soil in place and become the homes of many insects and animals. When a tree appears to be dying, too many people opt to remove the tree immediately. However, there are often others things you can do to help the tree regain its vigour. Let’s take a look firstly at some common signs of tree decline, and secondly at how you can help bring a dying tree back to life.
Common signs of tree decline
Some signs of internal trunk damage include vertical cracks in the trunk and dead branch stubs. While severe damage (a general rule is over 25% of the circumference) to the main trunk often require the tree to be removed, a tree can often recover and continue to survive with smaller incidences. Likewise, a tree with a trunk that is hollow will also survive too. This is because the xylem and phloem of a tree is on the outer edges of the trunk. However, if over one-third of the tree trunk is hollow or rotten, the tree will need to be removed.
Dead branches are perhaps the most obvious visual representation of a tree in decline. Note the percentage of dead branches – are there over 25% of dead branches? Also, take note of the location of the dead branches. Are they all in one area or one side of the tree? This may indicate a disease affecting part of the tree.
Leaning trees are more hazardous than their vertical counterparts. A tree leaning usually indicates the roots have been weakened or damaged. In this instance, the tree needs to be monitored for significant change over a short period of time. We would also recommend more amenity pruning to help with balancing the weight. Sometimes, leaning trees are healthy but have been forced to lean due to larger trees shading the light. However, if you notice significant change on the lean of the tree over a short period of time, the wind and moisture in the ground may be affecting the root system. It’s always best to get expert advice in this situation to avoid a tree potentially falling on its own and causing damage to the property.
These are three common signs of tree damage. Of course, there are many other including rotting trees (often evident by fungi growing on the tree), and small branches or sprouts appearing from the base of the tree indicating some stress to the tree.
If you think your tree may be in decline but are not sure the extent of the damage and whether the tree can be saved or requires removal, you need to speak to a professional. Arborists, such as Everwilling Trees, will be able to assess your tree and provide advice as to whether the tree requires removal or whether there are things you can do to help bring the tree back to life.
Things you can do to help save your tree
Watering issues are a common cause of tree decline. Many people think they need to water more, however have not considered the drainage in the area. If you notice water-logging when you water your trees, the drainage isn’t up to scratch. You can easily help your trees live longer by improving the drainage in the area. Also, ensure ample watering of the tree. If you don’t have time to water regularly, consider setting up an automatic watering system to ensure your trees receive regular water.
Regular pruning can help your tree survive. Research or get assistance with proper pruning techniques to ensure you are giving your trees the best chance to survive. If your tree has been partly damaged by disease (for example, there may be a few damaged branches), have these removed by a professional. Removing dead or damaged branches quickly can prevent any disease from spreading throughout the rest of the tree.
Mulch can be useful when used properly – refer to our section on Garden Maintenance in our previous blog, “Planning for the summer months” . However incorrect use of mulch can be harmful to trees as spread to thickly, mulch can actually suffocate the roots of the tree. Check the mulch around the base of your trees; ensure it is layered thinly so that the roots are still able to breath.
What to do if you have to remove a tree
Sometimes, tree removal is a necessity. If the tree is severely damaged or dead, chances are the tree will be removed and disposed of. However, sometimes trees are removed due to their potential damage to property – for example, growing into power lines, redevelopment or construction. If you are removing a perfectly healthy tree due to reasons like this, you should consider relocating the tree. Contact Everwilling Trees if you are removing a healthy tree as we can assist with relocating and replanting of trees.
Also remember that there are many inhabitants in a tree – from insects to birds and possums. Take a minute to consider these guys before you remove that tree! Consider placing a bird box or possum shelter in an adjacent tree to encourage the wildlife to stay happily on your property.
We hope that this provides some insights into tree decline and the options to help save the tree rather than opting to remove it. Also remember the best advice you can get is from a professional arborist. We can help inspect the tree and provide professional advice on whether the tree requires removal, or the steps you can take to help improve the lifespan of the tree. If you have trees on your property that require inspection, contact us today for a professional opinion.