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The Home Depot

Why is My Tree Dying?

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Landscaping > Why is My Tree Dying?
Why is My Tree Dying?

Trees are intrinsic to everyday life and act as giant lungs that soak up volumes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, just like humans can become sick, trees are also prone to a slew of illnesses. Trees that fail to thrive not only diminish the value of the property they are planted in, but also fail to help out the environment like they should. However, before you call an arborist, it is wise to determine the possible causes behind the sudden changes in a tree.

  1. Different trees exhibit different symptoms for damage or sudden death. However, one surefire sign of a damaged or dying tree is the lack of leaves.

    1.Find the Truth

    Trees can die due to a plethora of reasons such as changes in soil grades or roots, physical damage due to careless operation of equipment, trunk and crown damages caused due to injuries, root cutting caused by excavation that is done for site foundations, lack of water, too much sun, and the list continues.

  2. 2.Signs of a Dying Tree

    To save your trees from unexpected perils and premature death, it is imperative that you identify the signs of a dying tree first. Different trees exhibit different symptoms for damage or sudden death. However, one surefire sign of a damaged or dying tree is the lack of leaves. In the beginning of this process, the tree will start with bearing only discolored leaves, slowly moving to a phase wherein the tree becomes completely barren. This is the prime sign of a ‘healthy’ tree falling prey to bad microbes or some or one of the reasons listed above, and then subsequent death. Other signs of a sick tree is when the bark slowly becomes brittle, eventually causing it to fall off. Often, you will see the limbs and branches of your tree slowly drying up and beginning to droop. This is another sign of a dying or sick tree.

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  4. 3.What Causes a Tree to Die?

    While most trees have a life of 15-20 years to up to a millennia, certain threats or events can cause a premature death. A bevy of possible reason(s) behind why your tree is dying are as follows:


    1. One of the most common reasons behind a waning tree is the raising soil level around it. Any type of filling up of graded areas around the tree site raises the soil level and covers the original soil. This impairs the supply of oxygen to the tree along with a substantially reduced exchange of gas between the soil and the air. Furthermore, it also leads to a disruption of a normal water flow, depriving the tree of adequate water. As a result, the tree begins to decline in health.


    2. Most people think that trees die because of lack of sufficient water. While this is true in some cases, the chances are equally high that your tree is dying from excess water. The oversupply or lack of water leads to diminished shoot growth, defoliation, and causes the leaves to turn yellow and reduce in numbers, eventually leading to death in a short time span. Make sure that your tree receives a sufficient amount of water, and at the same time, care should be taken to ensure a surplus water supply doesn’t occur since it can also cause unexpected death and harm to your tree.


    3. If you are living in an environment where your trees are exposed to de-icing salt used to clear ice and snow from the road and your driveway (or your neighbors), the chances are higher than some damage could be sustained by your tree(s). When the roots of the trees soak in a large quantity of chloride and sodium, unwarranted damage is likely to occur. Moreover, the de-icing salt can also affect the structure of the soil and its ability to drain excess water, causing further harm to trees.


    4. Application of herbicides and pesticides may keep your garden clear from undesirable weeds and pests, but it can also adversely hamper your trees. Certain elements in pesticides and herbicides cause discoloration of foliation and premature loss of leaf, while some other varieties may even kill certain types of trees when exposed extensively.


    5. Insects such as beetles, certain bacteria, and viruses can also lead to unmistakable damage and premature death to trees.

Find a Pro

If your trees are dying, find a tree and shrub maintenance professional immediately so that he or she can identify the cause and offer appropriate treatment solutions, in case the problem is treatable and reversible.

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