How To Tell If Your Tree Has Dead Branches

Dead branches pose numerous problems. One example is how they can fall unexpectedly. Another example is how they make it easier for pests to bypass a tree's natural defenses. As a result, you should call a tree care specialist for pruning whenever you see dead branches on your trees. Identifying dead branches can be challenging, so you should learn several methods to ensure comprehensive coverage. 

What Are 5 Ways to Tell a Branch Is Dead?

Here are five ways to identify dead branches that could benefit from tree services:

Check For Buds

You should be concerned if you see a branch with no living buds. Sometimes, a living bud will seem dead. Luckily, you can check by just putting some pressure on it. Living buds should be firm. In contrast, dead buds are dry enough to crumble with minimal effort. Chances are good that a branch has died if it has no living buds while its counterparts on the same tree are budding.

Check For Leaves

On a related note, you can check a suspicious branch's leaves for clues on its condition. For example, it's troubling when something remains leafless even though everything else is decked-out in new growth. Similarly, you should be concerned if you see a branch with shriveled-up leaves clinging to it, even though the rest of the tree has shed them in preparation for colder temperatures. Be warned that different species have different patterns. Due to this, you need to compare suspicious branches with the norm for your tree's species in your local climate, which is why you might want to consult a tree care specialist's expertise.

Look For Rot

Rot is a sure sign that something's wrong with a tree. You'll want to remove the affected portion as soon as possible to see if you can save the rest of the tree. Sadly, rot isn't always noticeable at the start. Sometimes, you'll have to rely on signs of damage, with examples ranging from cracked bark to off-color leaves. However, you might also come upon something more obvious. For instance, states a large fungus growing on a tree suggests it's either dead or dying.

Look For Exposed Wood

It's natural for old bark to fall off of a tree. This can be so dramatic that it seems like something is wrong. Alternatively, this can be so subtle you might not even notice it happening. A healthy branch should have a new layer of bark ready to step up once its older counterpart has fallen off. Large portions of exposed wood mean something is seriously wrong.

Inspect the Cambium

A living branch should have a layer of green material called the cambium beneath its bark. It's easiest to check for it when this part of the tree is still young because you should be able to reach it using a knife or a fingernail. Unfortunately, you might need a saw if you want to check older, tougher branches, meaning you shouldn't resort to this method unless you have good reason to believe something is wrong. After all, Purdue University points out that every wound exposes trees to potential risks, so they're best avoided under normal circumstances. Regardless, a dead branch will show nothing but brown once you've reached the cambium.

Further Considerations

You might be able to handle some of the dead branches on your tree. However, others might be out of the way or inconvenient in some other way, meaning it's best to call a tree care specialist to take care of them. Better still, you can also count on professionals to confirm whether your tree has a problem before giving you valuable advice on the best way forward.

Contact a tree care service near you to learn more.