September 15

Your Tree Died – How to Move On



The death of anything is sad – people who have gotten sick, pets that have run away, shoes that met a piece of gum that ruined them, a shirt that you wore to an Italian restaurant, and trees that have succumbed to any number of problems. Each one, even though there is something in the back of your mind that expects it, comes as a bit of a surprise to us.

Trees can extremely surprising because even though it takes a long time for a tree to actually die, with how busy we are and how often we pay attention to our trees, it seems like it happened so quickly.

So, what should you do when your tree dies – especially if it wasn’t something that you anticipated?

Here are a few places to start, at least:

4. Consider Replanting A Tree – Or Something Else

dead tree thick
Credit: Ryo Chijiiwa
  • Be careful when investing in new trees or greens as they may die too
  • Make sure the ground is prepared for a new tree –  the soil especially
  • Consider new varieties of trees– or no tree at all

Once your tree has died, you need to perfume an autopsy of sorts to figure out just why that tree died. This will help you to get a better overview of what you should do with the ground that is left behind. Infestations, for example, might mean that you shouldn’t put the same type of tree in the exact same spot. However, old age means that you should be able to plant the same type of tree quite easily.

If you do want to plant the same type of tree again, there are some things that you can do, according to the Royal Horticulture Society: “Leaving soil fallow (i.e. unplanted) for a given length of time does not guarantee success. However, grassing for a few years is a sound method if possible.” So you might be looking at more of a long game than a short one when it comes to replanting.

If you know the reason why your tree died, you will better be able to figure out what to do with that uninhabited space in your garden. You might have to do some online research for yourself or you may have to contact a tree care professional to get the best help.

3. Find Out the Reason for the Death

Night for a dead tree
Credit: Geoff Bosco
  • Most common killers: infestations and funguses
  • Can expand to other trees or plantlife in your yard if you aren’t careful
  • Might require professional help of some kind to abate problems

Trees invite pests and diseases into your yard. All trees have some sort of pests living in them, from bugs and birds to squirrels and funguses. Everything that touches your tree, even in passing, has a chance of infecting it. In turn, any infections or funguses that live on your tree can be passed to everything else in your yard by the wind, bugs, and even tree maintenance.

This is why everything you do to your tree needs to be deliberate and professionally done – it is really that simple to cause the death of a tree.

According to Gardener’s Path, trees can typically take care of themselves and solve the problem. However, there are many instances where it just becomes too much and the tree cannot take care of itself at all – this is when trees die.

Being careful is one thing you can do, but the best way to fight this type of death moving forward is to just be cognizant of what is going on in your garden.

2. Decay of Some Sort

Really dead tree
Credit: lewish1990
  • Common concern during spring weather where there is a great amount of rain
  • If tree was healthy not long ago, it might be fine
  • Talk to an expert if you have questions or concerns

One of the bright spots for people who think their trees are expired might actually come if it has been raining more often than normal– that rain could have caused indicators of tree death, but it might not, in reality, be dead. Some tree care professionals believe this is just a cry for help that many trees show – they are, quite literally, telling you that something is wrong and they are unable to take care of it by themselves.

One of these signs, according to Gardenerdy, is the “growth of mushrooms or other fungi on the tree’s surface is a giveaway that the tree has a soft decaying trunk or branches. A fungal problem is more serious than it may look. This is because trees decay from their center towards the outer edge. By the time the fungal growth is noticed, the tree is already damaged to a great extent.”

If your tree looks generally healthy but there is something else going on that seems fishy, you might need some help.

1. Phone a Tree Care Professional

Tall, thin dead tree
Credit: Dirt
  • There is a possibility to save your trees if you act quickly
  • Only pros can handle some treatments that will save the tree (or other trees in your yard)
  • Will make suggestions for other trees in your yard if the underlying cause could kill them as well

According to the Tree Care Industry Association, no matter when your tree passes away, you want to always have your tree reviewed by a tree care professional who will be able to make a prognosis on the death. This is so vitally important because we are able to get a better look at your tree and help you to figure out just why the tree died. Sometimes, it will just be because of old age– this happens to many trees. Other times, however, and sometimes more commonly, it is because of a particular disease or wicked infestation. In these cases, you want to ensure that dead tree removal is treated thoroughly and that the appropriate tools are used and cleaned properly. As an ordinary homeowner, you probably do not have these tools at your disposal.

Many tree care professionals have the instruments to help you remove stumps and the resulting debris from your yard and garden. At the same time, we can also help you turn that tree into something new and beautiful– fire burning logs, decorative logs, and/or compost.

Whatever you do, don’t try to take high trees (or any trees at all) down by yourself as it can be extremely unsafe and you will most likely hurt yourself, another structure in your yard, or even your other trees.

Contact Menchhofer Tree Care for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down – and of course, watering your trees. If you are having trouble making mulching decisions, we can also be there to help you with laying mulch, finding the right mulch for you, and even cleaning up if the mulch doesn’t work.

Call us today at 317-661-4240.

Header photo courtesy of Eliza on Flickr!

Menchhofer Tree Care

About Steve Menchhofer

Steve Menchhofer has been caring for the trees of the Indianapolis, Indiana metro area for over 40 years. Steve and his team of experienced, certified arborists are members of the International Society of Arboriculture and the Indiana Arborist Association.

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