It is always important to keep a watchful eye on your trees. Detecting dead trees before they fall and cause damage is preventing a major safety concern. However, it is not always easy to spot a dead tree, especially if it is in the winter! Trees don’t have leaves in the winter to signal to us that something is wrong. Furthermore, the winter season is a time of rest or dormancy for trees. So how do you tell if your tree is dying or just simply resting?
Dormancy for trees allows a time for the tree to rest or conserve energy before producing springtime foliage. The dormant tree, however, has bare branches and minimal activity, which can resemble a dead tree too. To ensure you don’t ignore a dead tree or cut down a tree that is dormant, follow this three-step check:
#1 Look for Buds
This will take a close examination, but if your tree is simply resting during dormant season, you should notice tiny leaf buds on the branches. If you see some, your tree is dormant. If you don’t notice any signs of budding life or the buds are shriveled, your tree may be dying. Make sure you examine all the branches throughout the tree to make sure it isn’t just a single dead branch.
# 2 Inspect the Trunk
If your tree is dormant, you’ll notice fresh bark growing in. Despite the dormant cycle, winter trees still replace their bark as they shed. If your tree doesn’t seem to be replacing the old bark with a new layer, you may have a dying tree. Another symptom of a troubled or unhealthy tree is cracks throughout the trunk.
#3 Do a Scratch Test
Use your fingernail or a knife to lightly scratch an area of the tree, a twig will do. If you expose a layer of moist and green, your tree is in good health. However, your tree may be dying rather than dormant if you see a brittle and brown layer underneath the scratch. You can also bend the tree twig, if it snaps easily, that is another indication that your tree is likely dying or already dead.
Need help determining whether your tree is dead or dormant in the winter? Call Pannone’s Landscaping & Lawn Pros today.