Removing a landscape tree, particularly one that provides shade and beauty to your home, is never an easy decision. Knowing when to say goodbye is important, though, for safety reasons and to prevent damage to other landscape trees.
1. Root Death
You likely won't see root death directly; instead, it's important to know the external signs of root death. When root systems die back, they no longer anchor a tree in the ground as well. Heaved or churned up soil around the base of a tree after a windy day is one sign of root death. Fungus growth, such as mushrooms, from the base of the tree or in the soil near the trunk can also signify root death.
2. Crown Dieback
A few dead branches in the crown are usually no concern and only a thorough trimming is needed. Crown dieback is a problem when it becomes systematic. This means you notice widespread dieback moving from branch tips downward which is also affecting new growth. If the majority of the branches are exhibiting dieback, then an untreatable virus or pest is the likely culprit. In this case, removal is the responsible option so the problem doesn't spread to other trees.
3. Severe Damage
A healthy tree can be quickly wiped out by a single storm. If lightning or wind has split a trunk, then it's time to remove the tree. Damage to the majority of the mature branches can also be fatal. On evergreens, snow and ice weight damage is just as likely to kill a tree as wind damage.
4. Trunk Decline
Much like root death, trunk decline isn't always immediately noticeable. This is because heart rot eats away at a tree from the inside out. Once you notice a problem, it has likely progressed to the point that removal is the only option. Usually, trunk decline is noticed only after a crack appears in the trunk, revealing a hollow space or rotten heartwood.
5. Safety Concerns
Of course, sometimes healthy trees must be removed. A tree that has grown into electrical lines, for example, poses a major fire and electrocution hazard. Landscape trees growing too close to a home can be a safety concern for foundations, roofs, siding, and windows. Small trees can sometimes be moved to a safer location, but large or mature trees must usually be removed completely.
Contact a tree removal service if you need help in assessing the health and future prospects of a landscape tree.