Recognizing signs of a sick tree


You want to keep your trees healthy and you attempt to do everything right, from feeding to pruning. Unfortunately, trees can get sick and the symptoms are not always easy to spot. Considering that your chances of saving a sick tree are better if you catch a problem early, it is helpful to know what to look for.

Trees that have been infected with disease or infested by bugs don’t always look sick. You may need to look closely for signs that something isn’t right. Tree experts generally recommend that you perform seasonal inspections of the trees on your property. Every three months, check the following:


Leaves – They are likely the first sign a homeowner will notice, but wilted leaves or excessive or early leaf drop are not necessarily the first symptom of a sick tree. Therefore, if you see even subtle changes in the color of the leaves or needles, browning of the edges, sections of wilt, or unusual loss of leaves in the spring or summer, call a professional immediately to identify and treat the problem.


Branches – Look for dead branches within the canopy and note dead branches that drop from the tree during storms. Significant dead wood is a sign of an unhealthy tree, and since its brittle, you will often find it on the ground after a windy or stormy day. A professional can check dead branches that have fallen or been pruned from your tree to determine if the tree is diseased or invested by insects.


Trunk – Abnormal growths or holes may provide nesting for small tree critters, but they can be a bad sign for your tree. Holes may be rotting spaces inside the trunk. Look also for cracks or wounds that are seeping, as well as cankers, which are lesions that have sunken centers with raised edges. These signs may indicate bacterial infection or interior rot.


Bark – Bark that is peeling, brittle or flaking off leaving bald spots on the trunk is usually a sign of insect infestation. You may not see insects crawling on the bark, but loose bark, burrow holes and sawdust are sure signs that your tree needs treatment. Look also for bark exhibiting whitish gray mildew or fungi growth, as this may mean your tree is rotting from the inside. Mildew typically does not kill a tree, but treatment is wise to encourage normal healthy growth in the future.


Roots – A soggy, spongy root system could mean the tree is rotting or the roots have been damaged by heavy equipment compressing them or by excessive water. Address such problems quickly. A damaged root system may be unable to anchor the tree in the event of heavy rain or wind, creating a serious threat to your home and neighboring homes.


Sick trees can often be saved if the problem is caught early and the tree is in otherwise good condition. The professionals at Elite Tree Service have a variety of treatment options to save trees that are suffering from insect infestation or disease. Our team will work with you to determine which treatments are best, or advise you when removing the tree is the best way to prevent disease from spreading to other trees.


Keep trees healthy by inspecting them regularly, using recommended fertilizer, and proper, seasonal pruning. The experts at Elite Tree Services can provide guidelines for proper tree care and provide seasonal services that will keep your trees looking their best.

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