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8 Warning Signs It's Time to Cut Down a Tree, and How to Do It

Everyone loves having trees in their yard. Over time, trees on your property can begin to feel like they are a part of your family. They provide us with shade in the summer and we watch them grow and develop over time. We welcome their new buds in the springtime and watch the beautiful spectacle of their leaves changing in the fall. 

Over the years, trees appear in our photos and become a part of many of our memories. When one of our trees dies, it leaves sadness in our hearts.

When the time comes to cut down a tree, it's like saying goodbye to an old friend. It's hard to watch such a large and looming presence go, and as a result, many people put off tree removal projects for many years.

Taking down a tree is a large and often expensive undertaking. However, if you wait too long, your old friend in the yard can become dangerous. A dead tree will drop branches onto your cars and your home. Even worse, it could fall on you or someone else.

Emotionally, it can be hard to determine when it's time for a tree to go. On the other hand, there are many visual and physical indicators that make it clear that the time has come. Read on to learn about the signs to look for to know when it's time to cut down a tree on your property, and how to move forward once the decision is made.


A Healthy Tree is a Happy Tree


Unless you are a tree expert, it may be difficult to determine whether or not a tree on your property is dead. Often, a tree may look dead even though it has a lot of life left in it. It's possible that the tree is simply dormant, or a portion of the tree is struggling with some sort of health issue and the rest of the tree is working to fight it off. Drought, pests, and invasive species can also cause issues that can be defeated with a proper response.

The Arbor Day Foundation's Tree Health Guide is a great resource and starting point when it comes to tree health, but because tree health is hard to diagnose, if you have questions about a tree on your property you should call in a professional to check out your tree. A tree service, an arborist, or someone from your local Cooperative Extension Service can be a big help. 

There are other reasons for cutting down a tree as well. Sometimes harsh winters, lightning, or high winds can damage a beloved tree. Often, the tree can recover from the brutality of the elements, but sometimes the tree is damage beyond repair. This, too, can mean that the time has come for tree removal.

You may suspect that it's time to go for one of the trees on your property. The following are some of the telltale signs that the time has come.


1. Fungus 


If you see fungus like mushrooms growing at the bottom of your tree, your tree may be slowly dying. Moss is not a problem; many healthy trees may be covered with moss. However, if you begin to see rapid growth of fungus on the trunk or along the paths of the roots, your tree is probably struggling to stay alive. 


2. Surface Roots 


Some types of trees have roots that are close to the surface of the ground all their lives, but others root far deeper. If you can see a lot of tree roots close to the surface, you might have a bit of a problem, but it depends on the type of tree.  

If you have many of the same type of trees on your property or in your neighborhood, you can always use the other trees for comparison against yours. When a tree's roots begin to grow along the surface, the tree may be having difficulty finding the nutrients it needs. Roots that are close to the surface may be more susceptible to harm from animals, humans, weather, and lawnmowers. 

In other words, if the roots of your tree are near the surface, and the roots of other nearby trees are not, your tree may be struggling to stay alive. It can probably be saved, but you should call in a tree expert right away before it's too late.


3. Root Rot


Root rot can also be a major problem. You can tell if your tree's roots are rotting because holes and dips will appear on your lawn. More mushrooms will grow over the dead roots as they decompose them for fuel. 

Although you can't see the rotting roots, rotten roots can create major issues for you in a very short time. As you know, roots help keep a tree upright and aid in keeping the tree stable. When they die and disintegrate, your tree could fall over at almost any time.


4. Stress


If your tree is feeling stressed, it may begin to send out shoots from its base or from other low parts of the tree. These shoots may indicate that your tree is trying everything it can to survive. When the upper branches die, new growth may be a desperate effort to start anew.


5. Loss of Branches


When a tree start to shed large branches, this is another sign that it is having a hard time. By dropping large, dead parts, it is trying to redirect energy to the parts that are still healthy. 

This can be very dangerous and can cause property damage to your vehicles and your home. If large branches are falling off your tree, it's time to call in some assistance and removal may be in your tree's future.

However, loss of large branches doesn't always mean your tree is unhealthy. Sudden Branch Drop Syndrome can happen to even trees that are completely healthy and is especially prevalent in oak, beech, elm, eucalyptus and sycamore trees. An expert will be able to tell the difference.


6. A Dying Trunk


Looking at your tree trunk can tell you a lot about your tree's overall health in many cases. If bark is falling off the trunk, or if the trunk itself is cracked, or if it sounds hollow when you knock on it, your tree may be dying rapidly. The trunk of a tree is crucial to its support and its health. A weak trunk can lead to quick and sudden collapse, which is something you certainly don't want.


7. Leaves


When a tree is struggling to stay alive, leaves can really say a lot. Trees that are unhealthy may have far fewer leaves then other trees that are nearby, and the leaves that do grow may be an entirely different shade than normal. When autumn comes, if the tree does not shed dead leaves, that can be another sign that the tree is sick, too.


8. Storm Damage


If your area has experienced a big storm or a harsh winter, you may be able to see it in the trees. Trees are very resilient, but they also suffer storm damage all the time. Evidence of storm damage may include a cracked trunk, missing limbs, or exposed roots. 

A tree expert will always try to save any tree that has suffered damage from a storm, but sometimes he or she will recommend its removal. It's always sad to see a tree go, but sometimes it's for the best and is the safest choice for you and your family.


How to Cut Down a Tree


After you have confirmed for a fact that your tree is unhealthy and dying, you may be considering cutting down the tree yourself. After all, cutting down a tree is expensive and it may not seem like a challenging task at first.

However, you should really take some time to consider this decision. Tree removal is dangerous and it is more difficult than you might think. Professional tree removal services exist for a reason. Tree remove experts are thoroughly trained and possess all of the best equipment for the job.

It will take you much longer to remove a tree by yourself. Not only will you have to cut off all the branches one by one, but the branches and trunk will require removal after you are finished as well.

In the end, you will save a great deal of time and money by hiring a tree service to remove a tree for you.


Hiring a Professional


When you hire a tree service to remove a tree and to care for your healthy trees, you want to make sure that you hire a company that is experienced and reliable. Look for a company that is a part of national, state, or local industry associations and one that has been in business for a while. Ask your neighbors for suggestions and read reviews online. You'll want to hire the best of the bunch for your trees.

If you are looking for an experienced, affordable, reliable tree service on Long Island, look no further. At the Top Tree Service would love to serve you. Please give us a call today. We can't wait to do business with you and to meet you and your trees. 

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