How to Tell if a Tree is Dead and Needs to be Removed?

Trees can last for years. In fact, some trees can live to be thousands of years old. The oldest known tree is a bristlecone pine in California that is estimated to be 4,700 years old.

The older they are the harder it is when they die and need to be removed. That’s why it’s so important to be certain they are dead.

It’s not just their age, garden trees often have sentimental attachments as well as offering shade and even privacy. It’s essential to verify they are dead first.

Get The Experts

If you have a large tree then you’re probably already thinking about getting a local expert in tree removals Sydney. This is a wise move as bringing a tree down is dangerous. If done incorrectly it can injure you, your property, and even the property of your neighbors.

But, there’s another reason to get the experts in. They can verify that the tree really is dead and needs to be removed. Sometimes a tree can simply be dormant and appear dead.

There are other things you can do to check before you call the experts:

Scratch The Bark

The bark on a tree is effectively their skin, it’s designed to protect the tree from a variety of issues. If you scratch a small piece of the park off you should see white flesh underneath. If it’s brown and dry then your tree is struggling, if not already dead.


Fungi growing on a tree or around the base is an indication that the tree has died. The fungi feed on the decaying wood, that’s why you don’t see them on healthy trees.


It’s not just your teeth that need to worry about cavities. Trees develop cavities as they age, these are where nutrients have lacked over the years. Cavities in trunks or the main branches are particularly concerning as they suggest the tree is unable to get enough nutrients to stay healthy. In short, if it’s not already dead, it’s dying.

Dead Branches

Any tree can have the odd dead branch but when most, or all of the branches are dead you know the tree is dying and potentially suffering. Removing it and repurposing it at this stage is the right thing to do.

Fine Twigs without buds

As spring arrives twigs and buds should start to appear across the tree. However, if the twigs are there but no buds, even though you know there should be, then the tree is dead and needs to be removed.

Don’t forget, you need professional help to assess and remove a dead tree. But, don’t delay. A dead tree is susceptible to bad weather and could cause significant damage if it is blown down. It’s better to take action early and remove the risk or wish you’d done something.

A dead tree won’t necessarily look much different from a live one. The small signs above will help you to verify it’s status. You should also have an annual inspection of all your trees by a professional. They won’t just spot dead trees, they’ll identify other issues and help you to resolve them.

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William Woodall

Hi, My name is William Woodall, and I am a person who is determined to make the world a better place. I like to be around people and enjoy adventure and challenges.
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