Can You Save a Decaying Tree?

Decaying Tree Care

The decline of a cherished tree can be hard to watch—not to mention potentially anxiety-inducing, as you wonder whether a specimen in your yard is compromised enough to pose a risk to life and property.
But is a tree showing signs of decay altogether doomed? And, if not, what can be done to reverse the trend?

Decaying & Declining Trees

It’s important to note that trees don’t exactly age like we humans do. With the ability to sprout new growth to replace injured or senescing branches—even, in some cases, to regenerate from completely lopped-off trunks—and to seal over wounds with expanding bark, trees can keep churning along for centuries, even millennia.

A tree dying of “old age” is, all things considered, a rarer scenario than among people and other animals. Insect attack, disease, and storm or other mechanical damage are often the ultimate factors that lead a tree to kick the bucket—not necessarily a wind-down of essential, life-sustaining systems, as we (unfortunately) have to deal with.

That said, trees do face some inherent limitations in their growth that, in many species, have more to do with physical size than actual age. Trees of a certain stature may struggle to produce enough energy to maintain and sustain all of their organic material, essentially running into a deficit of energy input vs. energy expenditure. The ability to adequately transport food and water may be hampered by the vertical and horizontal scale of the tree. It may be more difficult for such trees to heal themselves in the face of pest infestation or physical damage, too.

Whether it’s a fungus rotting out the heartwood, insect activity weakening the structure, or a lightning strike or windstorm producing a major injury threatening stability and/or increasing vulnerability to pathogens, many processes can thwart a tree’s inherent, somewhat age-defying vitality.

Seek a Professional Arborist to Address a Decaying Tree

It’s oftentimes very difficult for a homeowner to diagnose an apparently decaying or declining tree. For one thing, trees naturally shed limbs that aren’t pulling their weight photosynthesis-wise; a branch showing withered leaves may not necessarily indicate a tree in decline, but simply one doing some savvy self-pruning. Even a completely barren-looking tree may be sustaining itself through roots or suckers.

You don’t want to invest time, effort, and money into trying to save an already-dead tree. And many a disease-ridden or battered tree poses too great of a threat—likely to shed huge branches or topple in only a moderate gale—to be worth saving.

All this means you should definitely consult a professional, certified arborist to determine what may be going on with your tree and whether it’s possible to save it. In some cases, pursuing a different watering or fertilization regimen may be enough to prolong an ailing tree’s lifespan. The right kind of pruning can do the same, not least when a diseased limb or subsidiary trunk can be efficiently removed.

Here at Excel Tree Care, we can help you diagnose and deal with a potentially decay-hampered tree, whether it’s via skilled tree crown maintenance or, if need be, safe, efficient tree removal. Get in touch with us today!