A dead tree is not typically a safe tree to have on or near your property. They are in fact a safety concern, especially for places where children are often present. A dead tree can fall over and crush anything beneath it, causing injury or death to people and pets, or severe structural damage to property and vehicles. If a tree cannot serve its purpose of aesthetic appeal and comfortable shade, then why have it on your property at all? It is best to remove a tree once it is deemed dead. But how can you know for sure that a tree is dead? After all, many seem as if they have died, only to re-bloom the following spring. One easy strategy for identifying a dead tree is checking its twigs. Sound a little too easy? It should because it is! Continue reading to learn how a twig can quickly tell you whether or not a tree is dead or alive.
When trees become dormant in winter, it can be tricky discerning the difference between a dead tree, a tree that needs a few dead branches removed, and a tree that is simply inactive due to the climate. This is why twigs are useful tools in identifying a tree’s condition and health. The only catch to this simple method is that it could take a few twigs or more to make a proper distinction.
Here’s how to check twigs to assess the health and status of a tree you suspect is dead or dying:
1. Examine the moisture level and color of the twigs. The dryer the twig, the deader the tree. Dead or dying trees also have brown or grey-colored twig branches, rather than the healthy-looking tan, purple, orange, or greenish colors that an active tree would have.
2. Look for new branch or bud growth at the ends of the twigs in the late winter or early spring. If the leaf buds appear swollen or open, then the tree is alive. You can also gently scrape the leaf buds with your fingernail to see if you can spot some green. This is another sign of an active tree.
3. Check the flexibility of a few twigs by gently bending them, but not too far that it could break or damage a healthy branch. A dead or dying tree twig will easily snap in half or clear off the tree with just a little pressure; while a healthy tree will exhibit some buoyancy and bend back into shape.
4. Use a small pocket knife, or your fingernail, to scrape the flesh of a twig. If green, white, or cream-colored on the inside, you have a healthy tree on your hands. If brown or grey-like, you have a dead or nearly dead tree.
If you find a dead tree on your property, it is a potential hazard to you, your children, your guests, your home and siding, your cars, and more. It is strongly recommended to have a dead tree removed as soon as possible by a licensed tree service.