4 Signs It’s Time to Remove Those Troublesome Trees

Problematic trees put your property at risk. Stop the struggle before it starts with tree removal.

Sometimes it's obvious when a tree needs to be removed, but other times you're left wondering, should it stay or should it go? Removing a tree on time can make the difference between a fall-free zone and a seriously damaged home. If you're unsure if your tree is safe to stay or ready to go, here are the signs to watch out for.

That Dead Tree Is Withering Away

A dead tree is more than an eyesore— it can also attract pests and pose a threat to your family and your property. Whatever the reason, it's probably time for that dead tree to come down once and for all. When dead trees are left standing for too long, they can begin to decompose, leaving them with extremely weak structures that are susceptible to breaks and falls, especially during strong summer storms. A dead tree's falling branches (or snapping trunk) can cause extensive and costly damage to your home or your neighbor's home. Trust us, having a tree topple onto your neighbor's property or power line is no way to make friends. Just in case you aren't yet convinced to let that dead tree go, here's one more reason: Dead trees are attractive homes for termites and mice—two pests you want nowhere near your home.

Let That Dead Tree Go

Your Tree Is (and Has Been) Struggling to Survive

When a tree is dying but not completely dead, knowing when to remove it can be a gray area. Some dying trees can hold on for years, while others break down quickly. If you think your tree may be dying, here are some signs to look for: deep cracks on the trunk, brittle bark, and leaves falling during a growing season. If you notice any of these red flags, your tree is probably reaching the end of its life.

Still unsure about the health of your tree? A tree removal service can inspect the tree and help you decide if and when it should be removed. In some cases, a dying tree doesn't need to be removed right away or can be brought back to life with the right treatments. In other cases—such as if the tree is more than 50 percent dead, is completely dead on one side, has severe trunk damage, or has a hollow trunk—tree removal is usually the best option. Dying trees with these characteristics are typically very weak and are at risk of breaking or falling, so it's best to tell them goodbye.

Tree Pests and Diseases Have Successfully Taken Over

Tree diseases and tree pests can lead to the ultimate landscaping headache. These problems affect trees in different ways, depending on what part of the tree they attack, and some are treatable, while others can lead to the need for tree removal.

Tree Diseases

Most tree species have at least one disease that targets them specifically, such as oak trees being susceptible to oak wilt, but some diseases can affect any tree, such as root and crown rot, anthracnose, and fire blight. Tree diseases can manifest in several ways, but some common symptoms are crown dieback (where the tree begins to die at the top) and irregular, dying leaves. Some diseased trees may be saved by treatment or tree trimming but if your tree care service decides that your diseased tree is beyond help, it should be removed as soon as possible before they put nearby healthy trees at risk for infection.

Tree Pests

Tree pests can harm a tree in a variety of ways, such as spreading fungi and disease and depleting a tree's nutrients or water. Tree pests are often difficult to get rid of so you'll want to consult a tree service if you suspect a pest is the reason for your tree's decline. One profoundly problematic tree pest is the emerald ash borer, which has devastated the ash tree population across the United States. The ash borer lays its eggs on the bark of ash trees, and when the eggs hatch they bore into the tree and eat the tissue that transports water and nutrients up the tree. Because the emerald ash borer attacks the tree from the inside, it is difficult to treat and often ends up killing the tree. The removal of these trees—and others plagued by pests—can be tricky, so it should be left to a tree removal service. It's important to limit the spread of the pests to other trees and properly dispose of the wood. Tree pests' eggs can survive removal, hatch and spread if the wood isn't destroyed.

Have a Pro Take Care of Tree Pests and Diseases

The Tree Is Causing Problems

An unhealthy tree is not the only candidate for tree removal. Sometimes a perfectly healthy tree can cause problems serious enough that it's time to consider tree removal. These are the situations that typically create the need to take down a tree.

 Property Danger

Sometimes, a tree grows large enough that it's interfering with its surroundings. One of the most common examples of this is a tree that is leaning too closely to a house or power line. The tree not only poses the risk of falling on the house or power line during a storm or high winds, but the endless amount of falling leaves can also create quite the mess in your gutters during the autumn months.

Overgrown Roots

Another tree removal warning sign is an overgrown root system that is infringing on its surrounding areas. A large root system can create a minor problem such as uprooting a sidewalk or more severe ones, like disturbing a home's foundation or underground utilities. Tree root systems can also become intertwined in utility lines, making them difficult to navigate, so it's recommended to leave this complex tree removal task to the pros.

Unsightly Appearance

Dead, diseased, or healthy as can be—sometimes a tree just doesn't work with your yard or home. Whether the tree is missing leaves, has lopsided branches, or is just plain in the way, sometimes it makes sense to remove the troublesome tree. Getting rid of awkward trees can allow the true beauty of your home to shine through.

Better Homes & Gardens Tip: If you're removing a tree to improve curb appeal, you'll also want to have the stump removed. A local tree removal service can often help with stump removal and stump grinding to make it look like the tree was never there in the first place.

Put a Stop to Problematic Trees

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