Trees can indeed live long, fend for themselves, and acclimatize as much as possible, but it doesn’t mean they’re less vulnerable, especially the younger ones. They can also get diseases with improper handling or other elements. Most of the time, we’re not even aware we’re doing them more harm than good.
Even mature trees that look healthy can get diseases and gradually die. Therefore, if you plan to keep those trees in your lawn, make an effort to regularly check on their health, learn about illness signs, practice healthy tree care habits, and protect them from other damaging elements.
Signs of a Healthy Tree
Just like what arborists do, inspect the tree from top to bottom. Healthy trees are much easier to spot. You will see new growth in branches and trunks, although it varies depending on the kind of tree you have.
Research your tree’s pattern of growth, especially how often it should spurt new branches and trunks. You can easily compare this year and the last buds just by looking if there are scars in the branches. There should also be one permanent, sturdy-looking center trunk on your tree.
Full, healthy branches will just bend when they’re bent, but the dead ones will snap immediately. Another way to check is by scraping a little portion of the branch with your thumbnail. An excellent indication for health is when it shows green color underneath.
Look if your tree has a strong bark too. It shouldn’t be peeling, loose, cracked, holed, or with dead branches or fungi. However, if your tree is either a maple or birch, it’s normal to see peeling or loose bark.
Lastly, the leaves should look healthy, which is primarily determined by the leaves’ colors. Healthy leaves of deciduous trees look green, regularly shaped, and not drooping or wilting; others’ natural leaf color may be yellow or of other colors, so make sure you know how your tree’s leaves should look like.
Signs of a Sick and Dying Tree
Sick or half-dead trees can be saved, but the dead ones are most likely non-salvageable. Before it gets to the point beyond saving, check and act on it, especially if you want to keep it for aesthetics or from harming other living beings and properties in the long run.
A dying tree would have various cracks, brittle or falling bark, or a brownish appearance. There are deep splits that would extend to the tree’s inner or outer cavities. Deadwood will abound too, which will fall just anytime.
For deciduous trees that show up with green colors when healthy, the unhealthy leaves would look brown and brittle. These dead leaves will still cling to the branches instead of falling to the ground. When your tree is a coniferous evergreen and a dying one, unhealthy leaves will appear as brown, red, or yellow needles.
No leaves or lack of it can be an indication too, which can mean many things for the tree—root damage, it caught a particular disease, pests invaded, or its nutrient flow is obstructed. When nutrients are blocked from entering the tree, the damage is mostly irreversible.
Watch out for rots, fungus, or pests harmful to trees, too. Act on them immediately since they can really take the tree down. Other damages to watch out for include the leaning body of the tree, having open wounds, and decaying roots.
How to Make Your Tree Live Healthier and Longer
It starts with being aware of what damages your trees, acting on when you’ve noticed illness or dying symptoms, and more. Here are some tips for you:
Remove mulch near the tree trunk
Mulch can make the soil and plants healthy, but not when it’s put so close to the tree’s base to the point that it can’t breathe. Doing so makes the trunk and roots eventually rot. Six inches from the trunk is the safest distance between the mulch and tree.
Follow proper pruning techniques
You may remove areas that are visibly damaged to stop the illness from spreading. But it’s easy to harm a tree when you don’t have the right equipment. For the tree’s and your safety, it would be best to contact a tree care professional to do the job.
Keep nails and screws away
When you hammer down a tree’s bark, you’re making it more vulnerable to insect infestation or diseases, so avoid hanging it with anything or wounding it overall.
To Save or Remove
There are many other ways you can save a tree, especially if it’s just in the dying stage. When it’s all-out dead, you can call the experts to check on it and have it removed to ensure the safety of everyone and everything surrounding it.