Is my Tree Dead or Alive? Here’s how to Tell

is my tree alive or dead

is my tree alive or deadJohnson City, and Kingsport TN

During the winter, all trees except for evergreens lose their foliage. If you’ve lived in East Tennessee for a while, you know that trees basically look dead for several months during the winter, until spring finally arrives and all is in bloom again. But do not worry! Not all trees that you see are actually dead, although some are. How can you tell if your tree is dead or alive? Continue reading as ISA-certified arborists in Kingsport explain how to tell the difference.

The tree’s bark is brittle or has cracks

Brittle or cracked bark can lead to deep splits that expose the internal structure of the tree to fungus, insects, and other damage. If you notice weak spots in the tree’s bark or its bark falls off on its own, this could be a sign that your tree is dying.

The tree has a lot of dead branches

Dead branches may be difficult to spot during the winter, but even without leaves, deadwood has a certain look to it. It may have an obvious blunt end where part of the branch already broke off or have little to no young sprouts, which may indicate that there was no new growth in the previous growing season. While deadwood is a natural process, a tree with many dead branches could signal a problem.

You notice bugs and fungus growth

Fungus growth and pest infestations are not good news for a tree. Many times, these symptoms are evident in a tree that’s dying. It’s natural to see birds perching on branches or squirrels hunting for acorns, but an abundance of pests that appear to burrow in the tree may indicate an issue worth hiring a Kingsport arborist to inspect.

Visible roots are damaged

Tree roots typically run deep and aren’t so easy to inspect. However, sometimes tree roots are exposed or become damaged, even underground, when digging or building a structure. Signs of root damage that may lead to the tree dying include thin foliage, stunted growth, wilted brown leaves during the spring and summer, or leaves suddenly start sprouting much smaller than usual.

The tree leans

Your tree’s health may be going downhill if it leans. If a once straight growing tree begins to bend or lean, it could lead to structural imbalance or weakness. Leaning trees pose a significant threat, especially during winter weather, high wind, or storms, which could end up causing the tree to fall completely over and require emergency tree removal.

It fails the scratch test

Tree bark is usually some shade of brown. But underneath its top layer, a healthy tree exposes the cambium layer, which is a greener hue. To see if your tree is dead or alive, conduct the scratch test by taking a sharp knife and gently remove just the top layer of bark. Do this on several different areas of the tree and on different branches. If the cambium layer is green, the tree likely is still alive. Dead or dying trees would be more likely to expose a cambium layer that is brown and dry.

It produces little to no leaves in the spring

While this test will have to wait a few months until spring officially arrives, remember to notice leaf growth (or lack thereof) next season. If all other trees start sprouting new growth and green leaves this spring, but you notice one tree that doesn’t, it could be because the tree is dying or already dead.

Can dying trees be saved?

ISA-certified arborists can help save partially dying or diseased trees. However, there is never a guarantee until the tree is assessed. One way that you can prevent your trees from dying is to schedule yearly maintenance such as tree pruning, deadwooding, proper mulching techniques, and hiring a certified arborist in Kingsport to provide necessary care to your trees. To learn more about how arborists at Promier Tree can help save your trees, call our office at (423) 765-2626. Our arborists provide services to home and business owners in Kingsport, Johnson City, and Bristol.