If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? We may never know. However, if a tree dies in your front yard, everyone is going to notice. Trees are often a bit of a hefty investment, and taking care of them is important to protect those assets. To protect them, you need to know how to determine whether or not a tree is healthy.
No Unhealthy Branches
A healthy tree has a canopy that is completely full of leaves. Some dead limbs may show up in the inner canopy of leaves, but nothing further than that. If you begin to see dead limbs extending past the outer canopy, this is an indication that the tree is in poor health. Prune away dead or broken branches as soon as you spot them, as these limbs are where many insect and disease problems start. If it is not clear whether or not a limb is dead, gently bend it. If it is alive, it will bend and give easily. If it is dead, it will likely be hard and snap.
Inspect the Trunk
Any problem on the tree trunk is a good indication that your tree is in poor health. Any type of weeping on the limbs or the trunk is your first indication of declining health. With the exception of a few trees that have signature-peeling bark, the bark on your tree should not be loose or peeling in any way. Fungal bodies anywhere on the ground around the tree or on the trunk are signs of decay. To avoid fungal infection, be careful when using sharp objects around your trees, as they could cut them open and leave areas open that are perfect for insects and disease.
Leaves are often a very obvious way for people to identify whether or not their tree is healthy. Frequently check and make sure the tree’s leaves are the proper color for the season they are in. Unless your tree is suppose to have yellow leaves, pay special attention to trees whose leaves turn yellow. The leaves should also be their normal shape, and not disfigured or oddly-shaped. Irregular leaves point to problems such as nutrient deficiencies, insect damage, ineffective watering, or disease.
Although you can’t control everything about your trees health, there are some things you can do to aide in keeping them healthy. One of the most important things a tree needs is water. Be sure that you are watering your tree sufficiently. For the most part, avoid any fertilizer, as most trees don’t need it. Last but not least, proper pruning is important. It not only preserves the health of your trees, but usually results in an even healthier tree the next year, as long as it is done properly. Taking care of your trees year round and conducting regular inspections will ensure that your trees last for years to come.
Stewart Scott is the owner of Cevet Tree Service, offering tree trimming services in and around Columbia, Mo.