Beginners Guide to Spotting a Dying or Dead Tree 

A dying tree in Austin, TX

Spotting a dying tree or one that is already dead can be a very tricky and challenging thing. many people think that the signs may be super obvious but let’s shed light on some of the challenges that you may face. Because removal should always be the last resort, there are many things that you need to look at carefully to determine if your tree can be saved.

Let’s explore some of the best ways that you can determine if you have a dead tree or if it is dying:


Branches can tell us a ton about the overall health of a tree. You can tell that a tree is on a decline when you notice several branches dying at the tips. Tree branches that make up a larger section or even the whole canopy, then sad to say that your tree is under a high amount of stress and the overall health are dwindling.

take note that a single twig or branch will not necessarily mean that your whole tree is dead. Large trees often always will have some dead branches as part of the life cycle. But if you are noticing multiple dead branches, then there is something going on with your beautiful tree. You may be thinking how on earth you can tell if the branch is still alive and kicking. Well, the best thing to do will be to test a very small twig. Simply bend the twig between two fingers and if bends rather easily then congratulations… It is ALIVE.

Now, if the twig is very brittle and weak, it is most likely dead. Ensure that you are testing a few different areas so that you are not only testing a single dead branch. Another way that you can test is by scratching a small section of the tree’s bark. Keep an eye out for any signs of green. This will indicate that your tree is very much alive.


So let’s chat for a minute about the leaves of a tree and how they can play a factor in the health of the tree. Look at the leaves for an easy way to determine if your tree is os dead or dying. Most trees take a while for all of the leaves to fall. But some trees end up not having a single leaf by the time August rolls around which becomes a huge problem.

Determining a tree’s health during the winter season when there are little to no leaves always keeps your eyes peeled for tree buds. Tree buds look like very tiny dots that are located at the ends of the branches making them very tough to spot. If these muscular spots are not present, then your tree may be dead.


Ok, Time to touch on those roots. The base of the tree is what we like to call the ” foundation for healthy growth. Have you ever looked at the bottom of your tree and seen a plethora of mushrooms? Mushrooms can indicate the dreaded root rot and it may be on the verge of death. It is also important that you look for lifting roots. these will be the roots that have separated and lifted from the ground. What does this mean? Well, my friend it simply means that your tree has destabilized and that your tree is dying.


Finally, let’s explore how the warning signs that you can make note of the tree trunk. One sign that your tree is dying is if you see large sections of bark peeling off. Not only does this let you know that the health of your trees is declining, but it also indicates that there may be a more significant problem. Another thing to watch out for is the amount of rot that forms in a ring around the entire trunk. This unfortunately means decay. The last and not-so-appealing sign is anything that you see dripping from the trunk. This is a real cause for concern as it may be a sign of heavy pest activity such as termites or simply damage from landscaping and construction. Definitely keep an eye on it.

Remember that not all trees need to be removed. If the tree is not at risk of harming you or your property when and if it falls, we always recommend that you leave it because dead trees are home to birds and other animals who have an important role in the ecosystem.

Tree Professionals

Let’s leave you with this… There are no set rules or guidelines that will tell you with 100% certainty whether a tree should be removed or not. But we are hoping that you will have confidence after reading this blog that you will be able to spot signs of decay sooner rather than later.

If you feel like you have a dead or dying tree on your business or property please contact us here at Wilder Tree Company to speak to our certifies arborists and schedule a visit to your property to inspect your tree’s health. We’d love to be of service!

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