sick tree

What are the Signs of a Sick Tree and How to Treat Them

sick tree

A tree is a valuable asset to a property. Not only does it add an aesthetic appeal to a landscape, but it also provides shade and shelter for wildlife and smaller plants. 


In most cases, the tree’s health is evident even to the untrained eye. Healthy trees have green leaves and sturdier branches, while sick ones tend to be riddled with holes from wood-boring pests. However, there are cases when it’s not clear that a tree is in poor health, making it challenging to address the issue promptly.


How Do Trees Become Sick?


The causes of tree sickness are varied and complex, but the most common factors include the following:

  • Insects
  • Invasive plant species
  • Environmental stress (poor soil, water shortage, excessive wind etc.)
  • Fungi
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Human beings

What Are the Visible Signs of a Sick Tree


It’s easy to spot a sick tree in most cases. The most obvious signs are wilted or dying leaves at the wrong time of the year. This signifies that the leaves aren’t getting enough nutrition or moisture to grow. 


Other clear indicators of a sick tree are weak or dead branches. You can quickly test this by snapping a twig. The limb should form an arch as you crack it and won’t easily break. Then follow up by doing a scratch test. Use your small pocket knife or your fingernail and scrape off a layer of the outer bark on a branch. If you see green under the scratch, that indicates that the tree is alive. However, if you see brown and it’s dry, the twig is dead or in poor health. You should do the snap and scratch tests on several branches to get a good picture of the tree’s overall health. 


Lastly, having too many insects on a tree is alarming, especially termites. These insects only feed on dead wood, so it’s already partially damaged if you see them on your tree. Termites can also further weaken the structure of your tree, making it more susceptible to falling over. 


Noticing these issues is the first step in saving the tree from disease, and it’s crucial to remedy the problem as soon as possible with the assistance of a qualified professional. Weak and dead branches are dangerous because they can drop anytime without warning. That means anything or anyone within the vicinity is at risk. 


How To Treat a Sick Tree


Don’t immediately cut down the tree if you discover any signs of it dying. With the help of a professional arborist, you can determine if it can still be saved. The following are the best ways how to treat a sick tree:


Stop Using Pesticides

Pesticides and herbicides are marketed as the primary solution for any pest infestations. However, a study by the Pennsylvania State University discovered that pesticides contain high levels of toxins that are harmful to everything it comes in contact with. So while it does get rid of the pests, it has devastating long-term effects that are not worth the risk. 


Don’t Place Weed Fertilizer Near the Roots

Fertilizers also contain chemicals that have long-term harmful effects on the environment. In addition, they can kill beneficial organisms that make your trees naturally healthy.


Regularly Prune and Trim 

Regular care is essential in nursing a tree back to good health. Proper pruning makes the tree more invulnerable to illnesses. Additionally, when you trim and prune branches, you encourage new growth and prevent decay.


Call a Professional To Evaluate Your Tree

Professional arborists are experts who can diagnose and recommend treatments for your sick trees. They have proper training and certifications to assess possible risks. Contact a professional at 770 Arborist to evaluate your tree, and we can pinpoint the reason for its failing health. Call 770-272-6747 or fill out our form to reach us!

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