Common Causes of a Half Dead Tree


Do you have a tree on your property that appears to be half-dead? The sight of a tree with full foliage and vigorous branch growth on one side and bare deadwood on the other is a strange one, to be sure, but not at all uncommon. A number of factors can create this half-dead phenomenon, which is definitely a cause for concern.

Here at Excel Tree Care, we can help you both diagnose what might be going on with a half-dead tree and also, if necessary, perform safe, Leave No Trace-style dead tree removal to protect your home, your property, and other trees on your lot.

Reasons Why a Tree May Be Dead or Visibly Declining on One Side Only

A tree that’s notably degrading or outright dead on one side of its crown often suggests some kind of problem within the root system. One common culprit is a fungal disease known as Verticillium Wilt, caused by various fungi of the Verticillium genus. Capable of lying dormant in the soil for a long time, these fungi invade through the roots and can end up clogging up the xylem of the tree’s vascular system, depriving parts of the tree of water and nutrients. Given the typical spread within vascular tissue, Verticillium Wilt often ends up afflicting only part of the tree at least initially, and the result may well be half of the diseased specimen showing leafless and dying-back branches.

Various other diseases associated with fungal or other pathogen attack of tree roots may be to blame as well. Roots that end up growing to girdle the trunk can pinch off water and nutrient flow. Pronounced soil compaction on one or the other side of a tree, which can starve roots of oxygen and/or hamper nutrient and water uptake, may also result in half the tree struggling compared to the other. 

But there are many other possibilities, too, including such environmental factors as half a tree being shaded out or, conversely, a previously shaded tree being suddenly exposed to direct sunlight (say, through the removal of a neighboring tree or building). That can quickly scorch the exposed side of the canopy. Even lightning strikes—in no short supply around Greater Atlanta in spring and summer—can sometimes produce the half-dead look.

Hazards of a Half-Dead Tree

fallen-tree-in-georgia-roadA tree that appears half-dead, or partway there anyhow, definitely warrants action. Environmental issues such as soil compaction or over-shading can be fairly easily addressed, which may remedy the situation. If it’s a symptom of disease, the sooner you explore treatment options, the better the odds of the tree surviving; such a dramatic expression of infection, however, often indicates a malady that’s simply progressed too far.

Either way, removing dead branches, stems, and perhaps the entire tree is often necessary. A half-dead crown can shed limbs dangerously, and it represents an imbalanced structure prone to toppling, not least in high winds or waterlogged soil. All of that deadwood might also attract pests that may transmit a secondary infestation, which might even spread to other plantings or wooden structures.

Trusted Tree Evaluation & Tree Removal Services in the North Atlanta Metro Area From Excel Tree Cafe

Here at Excel Tree Care, we can help you evaluate a tree dying back on one side to determine the cause and thus clarify any potential options for reversing the situation. With our expert, Leave No Trace dead tree removal services—including 24/7 emergency calls—we can also safely get rid of hazardous dead limbs or completely take down a tree if necessary with minimal impacts to your property.

We serve customers all over the North Atlanta Metro Area. Get in touch with our team at (404) 964-6508 or over the website!