The Ultimate Guide on How to Save a Dying Tree

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The Ultimate Guide on How to Save a Dying Tree

Trees aren’t just for looks; they contribute to our environment by providing clean air, water, food, and shelter for wildlife. 

In other words, they’re vital. That’s why it’s essential to know how to save a dying tree. Sometimes a dying tree is obvious, but other times it’s harder to identify.

Knowing the signs can prevent killing surrounding trees, property damage, and potential bodily harm. If your tree looks like it’s dying, there are simple ways to bring it back to life. 

Learn how to care for a tree and know when it’s time to consult your local tree service

How to Save a Dying Tree

While not every dying tree can be saved, some can. Once you identify the problem, it might be as simple as correcting a moisture problem, or it could be something more serious. When it’s the latter, it’s always best to consult your local professional tree service. 

Correct Moisture Problems

Too much water can be a problem for trees. This is especially true for younger trees as they cannot handle excessive water. 

If you notice substantial waterlogging around your tree, you need to provide better drainage. 

At the same time, underwatering a tree is also potentially disastrous. If you live in a dry climate, it’s essential to water your tree more and often. An automated watering system is a good idea for those who are time-poor. 

Don’t Overload on the Mulch

Mulch is used to retain moisture in the soil, prevent weeds, and reduce soil erosion. But did you know too much mulch can be harmful to trees? 

Too much mulch applied over the root ball can hide decay and dead spots on the lower trunk and major roots. Roots may also grow into mulch, causing stem girdling roots which can kill trees. 

If you have mulch around your tree, leave some room around it to let the roots breathe. This will prevent rot, insects, fungi, and other potentially deadly problems. 

Avoid Over-Fertilization 

People often don’t realize that fertilizer can kill a tree, especially when you use too much. Overfertilization can “burn” the roots and the foliage.

You can prevent fertilizer burn by:

  • Using a slow-release fertilizer
  • Never fertilizing wet lawns
  • Avoiding fertilizing trees in dry conditions

Trees are most susceptible to fertilizer burn during a drought. Wait until moisture conditions improve. 

If you suspect you have over-fertilized your tree, treat the area as soon as possible. Remove as much fertilizer as you can and flush the area with plenty of water. 

Prune Sick Limbs

As a tree owner, it can be helpful to research proper pruning techniques. Remember, there are different pruning techniques for different trees and diseases. If you notice a diseased branch, correctly removing it could save your tree’s life. 

By pruning sick limbs, you’re allowing room for new growth and keeping yourself and your property out of harm’s way.

Signs a Tree Is Dying

Several signs signal a tree is dying. Here are some of the most common warning signs to look out for. 

Barren Branches

While it’s common for trees to lose their foliage after fall, it’s not common when it’s all year-round. This is a sign that your tree is sick. Once your tree starts to lose its leaves, take action quickly as it can deteriorate rapidly. 


The most obvious symptom of a dying tree is tree cankers. Cankers are areas of dead bark on your tree caused by fungi that enter the tree and grow between the bark. As a result, the canker makes the tree highly vulnerable to bacteria and insects. 


Decay is one of those invisible signs that you don’t notice until it’s too late. Trees decay from the inside out and only become evident following the growth of mushrooms or other fungi.

If you notice fungi growth on branches, it can be easily treated. However, fungi on the trunk may be irreversible. 

Weak Tree Structure

A tree’s roots are vital to absorbing the nutrients and food needed to survive. It is also the anchor of the tree. 

When the tree becomes sick, the roots can lose their strength. You might notice your tree leaning to one side or drooping over. The lower it drops, the more likely your tree will uproot itself and cause severe damage. 

Causes of Dead Trees

Identifying the root cause of a dead tree is best done by a tree expert. However, it doesn’t hurt to do your research on tree diseases. 

Here are a few common diseases that affect trees. 

American Chestnut Blight

American Chestnut Blight is a canker disease caused by a fungus that primarily affects the trunk and branches of the sick tree. Symptoms include reddish-brown bark patches and leaves that turn brown and wither away. 

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is a common fungus that affects trees and a wide variety of plants. It requires high humidity levels to flourish, but it can affect your entire yard when it does. Powdery mildew often starts on younger leaves as pale yellow spots, which produce white powdery spores. 

Dutch Elm Disease

Dutch Elm Disease is a deadly fatal disease that affects elm trees and is spread by elm bark beetles. It is considered one of the deadliest tree diseases in North America.

Symptoms include yellowing and wilting leaves and premature leaf drop. Unfortunately, there is no cure.  

Dying Tree? Contact Us, Your Local Tree Service

One of the easiest ways to keep your trees looking and feeling their best is through regular tree maintenance. Caring for a tree will improve its overall appearance and structure and mitigate the risk of broken limbs and falling branches. 

Now you know how to save a dying tree, it’s time to put your knowledge into action! 

Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard you try; you can’t save a dying tree. If you have a dead tree in your backyard, it’s time to call a tree removal company. 

P’n’D Logging and Tree Service specialize in safe and cost-efficient tree removal. We are fully licensed, bonded, and insured for your protection. 

Contact us for a free written estimate today!