Deadwood in Trees: Should it be Removed?
January 22, 2019
Deadwood - tree branches and twigs that have died but are still attached to the plant - are a natural part of a tree’s life cycle. While deadwood doesn’t always signify a tree health issue, it can be a signal of problems and is certainly a safety concern in urban environments.
Why does deadwood occur?
Deadwood occurs in all trees, but especially in mature and fast growing trees, such as maple and ash trees. Deadwood can be caused by:
- Storm damage
- Physical damage & construction damage
- Animal damage (squirrels, birds)
- Water stress: lack of sap and water to the branch
- Fungal diseases that can rot and hollow out branches
- Lack of sunlight to interior branches
- Various tree diseases
Why Deadwood Should be Removed
While deadwood might be a natural occurrence in nature, it doesn’t mean all trees should have it and that deadwood should not be cleaned out. Deadwood left in trees can cause a host of other problems – and may even be a signal that a larger issue is present.
- The most important reason to have deadwood removed is possible property damage or personal injury. During storms or even light winds, brittle branches can snap & come crashing down. Large deadwood branches become a liability concern to you, your property and to your neighbors.
- Leaving deadwood in trees can lead to big fungal disease and pest problems. As the dead branches continue to decay, it can attract decay & fungus - as well as insects -which can spread to other areas of the tree.
- Deadwood can make your trees look bad. From an aesthetic standpoint, lots of deadwood in your tree just isn’t pretty to look at, and too much deadwood can inhibit your tree from growing properly into its natural form and shape.
How do I Identify Deadwood?
Deadwood might sound like something that’s easy to spot. But for the untrained eye, deadwood can often go unnoticed for too long. In winter, deadwood can be almost indistinguishable from healthy growth, unless you’ve been trained to spot it.
- No Leaf Drop: This is a little counterintuitive. Branches of your tree that have kept their leaves after the rest of been dropped, usually indicates the branch is dead. Of course, it’s important to know the type of tree you have since some trees, such as oaks, keep their leaves longer into the winter season than other tree species.
- Missing Bark: Healthy trees naturally lose some bark, but it is replaced with new layers of bark growth. On unhealthy or dead branches, bark will fall off and new bark will not grow – exposing smooth layers below the bark’s surface. Sometimes there is also discoloration to the deadwood.
Deadwood frequently occurs on mature trees & is usually hard to reach. Correctly removing deadwood can be precarious and safety precautions on the property and with climbers must be taken. Always call professional to have deadwood removed.
During removal, our arborists can also look for underlying health issues on your trees that may have caused deadwood in the first place. Removing deadwood is not only smart for a tree health standpoint, but also helps keep you, your family, and your property safe.