How Do I Know When a Tree is Sick?

One of nature’s gifts to our yards is trees; offering us many benefits for many long years. Many of these trees have been around for about fifty or more years and have required little or no maintenance. But as with all living things, trees could also get sick. 

Just as a healthy and beautiful tree could adorn the environment, a sick undiagnosed tree could cause problems on your property. One sick tree could infect others leaving the area barren of healthy trees. In another instance, if the case gets serious, it could fall causing damage to anyone close by or any property around it.

In this post, you will provide an answer to the question: how do I know when a tree is sick. But first, let’s discuss how to examine a tree.

How Do I Examine a Tree?

As with humans, a full diagnosis or test is required to determine the presence and type of ailment. Here, examining a tree requires checking its parts to confirm its condition. This is something you could easily do as a tree owner. If you are not sure of how to get it done, it is wise to assess abnormalities sequentially so it does not become a tiring job.

  • The roots

Starting from the bottom up, check the roots for any signs of abnormalities. This could involve broken or upheaved ground around the root. If your tree has roots that are closer to the surface, you could closely examine the roots for signs of decay, fungi, or even severed ones.

  • The trunk and the bark

Moving from the root you could pay attention to the areas closest to the ground and the trunk as a whole. Any sign of abnormalities on the bark such as cavities, cracks, peeling, or missing barks as well as seeping sap should be noted. 

Fungal growth on the tree bark should also be noted as a sign of decay. It is also important that you look out for small holes in the trunk as these often decay spots.

  • The branches

Progressing upward, you would be checking for broken, leaning, or dangling branches on the tree. Pay attention to dead branches or those that lack leaves or barks as well. Even branches with very thick canopies should be noted as they could pose a potential danger. Weak branches or areas where two branches are growing together should especially be inspected.

  • The leaves

Lastly, your examination should finish on the leaves. Here, you would be paying attention to the leaf coloration and condition. You would want to answer questions such as are there spots on the leaves? Are the leaves deformed or curled up?

7 Signs of a Diseased Tree

So how do you identify a diseased tree? Because we have seen different trees, certain warning signs can be easily overlooked. If you have examined your tree and find the following symptoms, your tree might need special attention.

Dying or discolored leaves

Trees shed leaves at different times of the year. At such periods, it is not uncommon to have many matured discolored leaves fall to the ground. You should be concerned about the health of your tree when you find that it sheds so many leaves. You could almost say it has just about half of its canopy.

Healthy trees have an abundance of lush green leaves in summer or spring. If you find however that there are dark spots on the leaves, curled up leaves or uneven foliage are signs of a diseased tree.

Poor tree structure

Several things can make a tree lean or have seemingly curved architecture. One of the easy culprits is heavy storms. However, poor management could also cause the weight to be displaced to one side more than the other.

It is important to remedy this as soon as you observe it so you do not risk a falling tree on your property.

Weak or dead branches

Weak branches would fall at any time and this could be dangerous. If your tree has a lot of them, it is a pointer to the poor health status of your tree. Many times, this is caused by the branches growing too close to each other.

Deadwood and branches could happen naturally but an abundance of them on the tree should raise a red flag. Since they are dead, they are dry and easily broken off.

Abnormal tree barks

Vertical cracks, falling barks, or deep slits on the trunk or branches could be an indication of a diseased tree. Some of the cracks on the tree could be natural but when you find that some run very deep, they could cause damage to the internal structure of the tree.

Infestations from insects

Insects and trees are most times symbiotic but some insects serve as pests on trees. These are found usually in dying trees and an undue increase in the insect population should be noted.

Mold and fungi

Cankers as they are called are discolored or depressed patches on the bark. They are signs of decay or rot in that part of the tree. Noticing these spots or the outright growth of mushrooms on trees is an indication of disease. If left unattended, this decay would eat deeper into the tree damaging the internal structure.

The scratch test

When scratched, healthy trees would show a green layer underneath. This layer is called the cambium. However, scratching a dying or dead tree would reveal a rather brown cambium. By scratching small parts of the trunk and branches, you would be able to identify what parts of the tree are diseased or dead.

What To Do If Your Tree is Showing Signs of Sickness

If you have noticed these signs in your tree, you could rectify them by applying the following steps.

Correct pruning 

Knowing the type of tree you have would help you identify the correct pruning techniques to apply. For already diseased trees, you could salvage the situation by pruning the diseased areas. This way, you can be sure that there would be no spreading of the disease to other parts of the tree. Besides, pruning your tree helps it retain the required nutrients.

To do this effectively, you would need sanitized shears or saws if you have thick branches. You can do this all by yourself or hire experienced tree trimming experts to handle the job for you.

Adequate moisture

The right amount of moisture is required for a healthy tree. Too little and you would have a dehydrated tree. Too much and you could risk a tree falling. Ensure that the drainage around the tree is perfect.

To retain moisture around the roots, you could mulch the tree. Make sure it is not too much so the roots can breathe.

Use the right fertilizers

Once you have removed the diseased or dying parts, nourishing the remaining part of the tree is vital. Run a quick test to ascertain the nutrients deficient in the soils and replenish them in the right amount. Don’t be in haste to spray the tree with any fertilizer. Ensure the one you are applying meets the tree’s needs and is done in line with instructions. The best way to go about this is to get in touch with a certified arborist or tree health assessment professionals to properly assess your trees and provide the best solution for optimal tree health.

Get an Arborist

At other times, you might need an expert to inspect and treat your tree. Arborists are trained experts that can help nurse your sick tree to health again. Always reach out to a Tree company in Jacksonville, NC, or one in your locality as soon as you notice the above-mentioned signs in your tree.

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