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How Do You Tell If A Tree Needs To Be Removed

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  • tree removal, tree removal guide, how to tell if a tree needs removing, signs a tree needs removing
  • Posted date:
  • 04-01-2022
How Do You Tell If A Tree Needs To Be Removed

Find out how to you tell if a tree needs to be removed. We look at when it is time to call an arborist to remove a tree from your property.

Deciding to Remove a Tree

The decision to remove a tree can be challenging because there are many factors to consider. The health of the tree, any trunk damage or hollow trunks, the history and environment of the tree will all be evaluated before the final decision is met.

While many arborists will attempt to keep the tree alive as long as possible, saving the plant where they can, there are situations where this is not practical or safe to the general public.

That being said, a certified arborist will still need to complete a survey and evaluation on the tree, assessing the environmental impact to animals in that natural area. The tree will play a more significant part in an ecosystem that needs a professional arborist's consideration. Sometimes, pruning and trimming can save the tree from infection or dead areas. Getting trees removed is the last-case scenario for many arborists, though.

If you're considering tree removal at your property, we recommend you consult a professional tree surgeon or arborist before you attempt it yourself. There may be workarounds to removing the entire tree, so keep reading this article for further information. 

When is it Time to Call an Arborist?

While trees are generally strong and sturdy against the elements, there are times when the tree's health is compromised and needs removing or caring for. 

Hazardous trees pose more threats to their surroundings than you realise, and you can receive a professional opinion before acting hastily.

In this instance, you should call an arborist. Here are some warning signs to look out for if a tree may need to be removed:

How Do You Tell If A Tree Needs To Be Removed?

Signs Of Infection

Infection can manifest differently across different trees, but there are telltale signs that the health is compromised. 

The tree's health could be at risk if you notice discoloured leaves, cracks in the bark, fungi growing, crumbling or weak wood, or signs of pests invading the trunk. 

Increased activity of woodpeckers and other various species will indicate pests are living within the tree's trunk and causing the tree further infection. You may need the tree removed before it can spread to nearby trees. 

Dead Branches 

If there are issues, you will notice dead branches around the tree's crown. The crown is the top part of the tree, where some of the largest branches reside for support. 

While a tree surgeon can remove individual dead branches to keep the general public and surrounding areas safe from falling branches, if more than 50% of the tree is dying or dead, it may have to be removed for safety. 

Large branches that fall are sometimes referred to as 'widow-makers' as they are cumbersome and can fall at incredible speeds, causing severe injury to anyone they hit. 

Poor Growth

If the general health and growth of the tree appear to have stunted recently, or the leaves and foliage are discoloured and less healthy-looking, then these are signs that your tree needs professional assistance from an arborist. 

Tree limbs may stop growing as intended, which could signify something more severe within and the need to remove trees. 

In some cases, only the damaged area will be removed, but only when the rest of the tree isn't put at greater risk. 

Root Defects

While finding evidence of root defects can be difficult, there are some signs you can spot above ground. 

If you notice increased fungi growth around the base of your tree or heaving soil (upward movement of the ground), you should make a note and contact a professional when it worsens. 

The tree's roots must remain healthy, or problems will quickly spread to the rest of the tree. 

Tree's Trunk Is Compromised

The tree trunk is an integral part of the overall entity, and when this is compromised, the tree may need removing. Internal decay can manifest in cracks and wounds; perhaps dead branch stubs can signify that the tree may not support itself for much longer. 

However, many trees last with internal decay and can survive for many years, but they must be kept under close inspection to ensure that they don't fall and harm people, animals or nearby trees. 

Structural issues can also occur where a tree has multiple trunks, yet one or the main trunk becomes significantly damaged or decayed. If you have a tree matching this description, report it immediately to a tree care company.

Hollow Trunk

If you notice a tree with a hollow trunk, it could be a sign it needs to be removed. 

While some trunks naturally hollow over their lifespan and do not necessarily signify a dead tree, it may suggest more fungi, and the tree could not be sturdy anymore. 

Professional arborists will evaluate the t/R ratio, which measures the ratio between the remaining secure wood with the original stem, to assess whether removal is necessary. 

The Tree Starts Leaning

Trees growing in peculiar shapes and patterns is normal, and leaning trees don't have to mean they're dying.

However, you will still benefit from contacting an arborist and tree removal service if you notice leaning trees. 

Deeper structural issues could be the reason behind the tree leaning suddenly. A dead tree poses many threats as they begin to lean, and they can begin to obscure pathways and even roads. 

Sprouts At The Base Of The Tree

This is especially common after a storm and shouldn't be immediately taken as a bad thing. 

More commonly referred to as epicormic shoots, a tree typically produces these as a sign of stress. If they have been overly pruned, a tree will need a way to compensate for the loss of the overall leaf surface, which is how the shoots help. 

You should contact an arborist if you notice sprouts and shoots around the tree's base, as they are being produced for some reason. 

Tree Is Under Power Lines

Where power lines are overhead, a tree may become tangled, cause hazards, and perhaps knock them down in stormy and windy weather. 

You should not complete this work yourself and instead contact a professional arborist for an assessment and evaluation because the tree will need trimming carefully to preserve health. 

Tree Is Too Close To A House

Ideally, a tree and all branches should remain away least 20 feet away from properties. This gives plenty of space for the tree to move around in the wind and not cause property damage when branches fall. 

A tree surgeon or arborist will need to prune and maintain such trees when they get too close to a house. If this concerns you, get in touch today.

As a tree owner, you want the best for your tree, and it's vital you report any of these signs to a trusted arborist or tree removal service immediately, as there still may be time to save the tree. There may be other signs you're yet to spot.

Why You Should Hire A Professional Arborist

While you may think cutting some branches, pruning and felling a tree can't be that challenging and believe you can do it yourself, there are many risks from trimming a tree. 

Not only could it cause more severe damage to the tree, resulting in the entire thing being removed, but you could cause personal injury damage other wildlife or the general public. 

Certified arborists are trained to complete tree surgery evaluations and are fully insured to conduct work for you. After an evaluation, the estimate is provided, meaning you're not working on a fixed quote. 

There are many tools needed to trim a tree, and this will involve climbing a ladder to access deeper areas in the tree. An arborist is a tree expert and can climb and navigate trees. The risk is mitigated when they use a ladder compared to you. 

Why You Should Hire A Professional Arborist

Many people across the country either injure themselves or are killed by attempting to trim trees every year, and that number will only keep increasing when you don't realise the risks. 

Most large trees cannot be tackled alone, especially when using chainsaws, saws, ropes and ladders. The branches you cut off a tree are cumbersome and can injure those below, especially if your tree hangs over a public pathway, footpath or natural area. This can all be avoided by hiring a professional tree removal service.

Hazards Regarding a Dead Tree

Some trees have aesthetic appeal, even when they are dying. People have hosted events in the body of a dead tree, and they make stunning photos. 

However, many hazards and health risks are associated with a dying or dead tree to you, your family, and your property. Even with small trees that look innocent, there could be greater problems you haven't evaluated yet. 

Branches can begin to fall from great heights, the trunk may start leaning, and the entire tree could fall and kill other animals, people and the surrounding shrubbery. 

The trunk will be weaker overall and lose strength over time, hence the importance of reporting any of the above signs and symptoms the moment you notice them. 

Pests can begin to infest dead or dying trees, meaning your property could soon become overrun with termites, insects, rats, mice and other pests you don't want inside. Dead trees are incredibly unpredictable in their nature, so while you may be enjoying their sights today, they could fall tomorrow. 

Tree removal is a dangerous and time-consuming task for professionals, but you will notice a significant benefit from seeking an arborists help. 

Sometimes the issue lies deeper than the branches, and the entire root system shows that the tree is dead. These could be infected and need specialised removal. 


If you want assistance in safely removing a tree from your property or would like to book an evaluation or assessment, please contact our professional team of arborists today.

We offer tree felling, tree surveys and tree removal in Northampton, Milton Keynes and Bedford.

Are you looking for tree surgery in Northampton, Milton Keynes or Bedford? Get in touch with our experienced tree expert today to discus any of the tree services below.