How To Tell If Your Tree Is Dying Or Dead


If a tree falls on a home, and the owner is uninsured, does it make a sound? Yes, very angry sounds. All joking aside, a tree falling on a home can be a disaster. Having a tree removed can cost a fortune especially without insurance. While the insured can rest slightly easier knowing they’re covered, the coverage does not occur until after a tree has fallen.   

Homeowners may not act until a tree has already fallen to have it removed, which likely means the damage has been done. It’s not that people want to claim it on their insurance, it’s most likely due to people not knowing the signs of a dying tree.

Determining a tree’s health:

  • Physical inspection – Check the base of the tree for fungi or other signs of decay. Check branches for new or budding leaves. If the base is clear and branches are budding, the tree is likely healthy. However, if fungi growth appears at the base, the tree may be dying.
  • Scratch test – Another option is to examine the color underneath the bark. Start by removing a small piece of bark from the tree’s trunk. If it is green under the bark, its likely a healthy tree. Dark green could be evidence of dying, while brown is the marker for a dead tree.
  • Branch Examination – The branches of a tree are a great indicator of its health. Bend one of the branches still attached to the tree. If the branch is flexible it’s likely still flourishing, while a quick break means it is likely dead. Be sure to test multiple branches, trees will sacrifice branches to keep the remainder of the tree alive if necessary.
  • Cracks in the trunk – Cracks in a tree are common, but a sizable gash can be a sign of decay. Substantial gaps in the tree’s trunk may indicate decay inside the tree, which means it is dying.
  • Leaning too much – If an otherwise vertical tree begins leaning to one side or deforming, it may have root damage. A strong gust of wind may have pushed it, and a significant amount of wind can knock it down.

Results Are Inconclusive

If at the conclusion of these self-inspections, there is still some lingering doubt, then it may be time to consult an expert. Fortunately, organizations with professionals can tell you if your tree is dying. They can assist you in determining whether a tree is healthy and may be able to help with removal. It is best to do this before the storm season hits in full force.  

Unfortunately, homeowners insurance does not pay for tree removal prior to it falling. Waiting for a tree to fall and hoping it causes minimal damage, even with insurance, is not wise. Repairs can be made, but repairs are time consuming and inconvenient. By taking action now, a stressful and possibly harmful experience can be prevented.  

More Information

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If you’d like to take a look at more home insurance blogs, we have a bevy of them on our website. Consider taking a peek at these before you leave:

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