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how to tell if a tree is dead

Do you how to tell if a tree is dead or alive? When your tree doesn’t leaf out as it’s supposed to be, you may start questioning: “is my tree dead or alive?” For this reason, it’s important for you to know how to determine if a tree is dead or alive.

With high temperature and little rainfall, some trees cannot make it through the years. Even a highly tolerant tree can also be stressed after a few years without enough water, particularly during extreme weather. That’s why you need to figure out whether the tree near your home is dead as soon as possible.

Since dying tree can cause damage when it falls, understanding how to determine if a tree is dead or not is seriously important. Then, how about a half-dead tree? Can a half dead tree be saved? You need to know about it too since there can be a way to restore it.

Actually, there are various tests that you can do. One of the available methods is to do the tree scratching test. This test is done to determine whether a tree is still alive or not. There are also some other methods that you can do. Read on to find out more about them.

How to Tell If a Tree Is Dead with a Simple Test

The very first test for verifying the status of a tree is by inspecting it. Start with walking around it and look at the tree closely. If you find that the tree owns healthy branches covered with fresh leaves or leaf buds, it’s likely to be alive.

If you figure out that there are no leaves or buds, it means that further tests are needed to determine the condition. There are actually some tests that you can do to tell if a tree is dead or not. So, how to identify a dead tree by these tests?

One of the best methods to determine if your tree or any plant is lifeless is the tree scratch test. This test is done by scratching bark to see whether the cambium is green or brown. Green means that the tree is alive, and brown is otherwise.

This test involves eliminating a bit of the bark outside layer to get a peek at the cambium layer. You can use a small pocketknife or fingernail to take away a little strip of exterior bark. You don’t need to make a great cut in the tree at this point.

How to Tell If a Tree Is Dead during Cool Winter

It’s no doubt that you need to pay attention to your tree, especially in the winter. It’s no secret that winter is time to rest for trees. But, since they converse energy and are slowing down during this season, they usually look like dead. Here are some ways to make sure.

  • Find budding life

Even in winter, a healthy tree should still have buds! Branches which are full of green buds mean they are ready to bloom in spring. But, if there is a lack of buds or they are shriveled and dry, it indicates a dead branch. Check several branches to make sure.

  • Inspect the trunk

Tree bark has the same cycle to tree leaves. Bark can replace itself as frequent as it develops. If your tree is healthy, there should be some fresh bark growing in. Then, when is a tree considered dead? It’s when you see the tree trunk shed layers. Or there are cracks in the trunk.

If you’re still not sure after doing some of the methods above, you can perform the scratch test which has been explained previously. If the test result doesn’t convince you, consider contacting your local arborist to make sure whether the tree is dying or alive.

Signs That Tells If a Tree Is Dead or Dying

To make it easier for you to learn whether a tree is dead or alive, there are actually a few signs that show it. One of the signs is bare branches. Branch loss is one of the most visible signs that your tree isn’t healthy. And here are the other signs.

  • Fungal growth

The emergence of mushrooms and fungal growths are a common symptom of a dead tree. If you’re wondering how to tell if a tree is going to fall, look for this sign. Take a close look at the tree’s trunk and base to search for fungal growth.

  • Trunk damage

A trunk can provide good evidence of whether a tree healthy or not. If you find a vertical crack on the trunk, it means that the tree isn’t doing well. Then, if you meet patches on the trunk which are bark-free and completely smooth, it’s also a bad sign.

  • Root damage

This sign is a bit hard to find, especially on a somewhat young or recently planted tree. But, you can sometimes find this problem yourself. For example, pay attention if the tree is leaning to one certain side only. Or, you can also search for epicormic shoots. These two signs usually indicate damaged roots.

What to Do If a Tree Is Dead

Now the question is: “how to save a dying tree?” Once you figured out that your tree is dying, you probably start to wonder what to do. One of the things you can do is taking care of the tree’s basic needs. It includes correcting watering issues.

Moreover, you may need to avoid injuring the tree while doing any yard work. Just like open cuts on human, wounds on trees can lead to infection. Then, you should keep an eye on any exposed roots as well. It’s because root rot can be deadly.

Last but not least, you should properly prune the tree. A pruned tree is a healthy and happy tree since it encourages proper growth and a great immune system. At the end of the day, you need to take care of your tree properly. That’s all about how to tell if a tree is dead.

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