Shaping the perfect ornamental tree

5 Common Causes of Dead Wood in Trees

Have you noticed that some of your tree's branches have died? Then don't panic just yet. Deadwood in a tree's canopy doesn't always signify that a tree is in decline. Branches and twigs die for various reasons, and not all of them are negative.

1. Inability to take in sufficient food

Trees have the ability to self-prune. This pruning occurs with inner branches that no longer take in enough food to feed themselves. The upper branches overshadow the lower branches, and so those lower branches struggle to pull their weight. When this happens, trees cut off the food supply to these branches. Eventually, the lower branches die.  

This isn't a serious issue that will kill a tree. But trees can benefit from pruning if their canopies are full of deadwood.

2. Pest infestation

All trees have natural pest enemies in nature. These pests can attack tree branches and cause them to decline gradually. If pests such as carpenter ants or wood borers are causing the death of tree branches, the evidence should be visible.

Woodborers can kill trees, and carpenter ants and termites can weaken sections of deadwood, rendering a tree dangerous, especially in stormy weather.

3. Disease

Disease causes deadwood in trees, too. And if disease is the cause of dead branches, swift treatment and pruning are necessary to prevent the disease from spreading further into the tree. If you see fungal growths on your tree's branches, disease is to blame.

4. Animal damage

Animals like squirrels, possums and birds can kill tree branches, too, when they strip away the protective layer of bark. This impedes a tree's ability to feed the affected branches. Eventually, those branches die and become brittle and weak.

5. Storm or wind damage

Storms and wind can kill tree branches, too. This is especially true when branches are so close together that they rub in windy weather. The rubbing motion strips away the bark and leaves branches at the mercy of pests, diseases and the elements.

If your tree has a lot of deadwood, consider hiring a tree specialist to prune those dead branches. Large dead branches can be hazardous to passersby if they fall. And if pests, disease or severe trauma are to blame, then you might have to remove your tree before it dies. Dead trees are brittle, with unreliable root systems. As such, leaving a dead or partially dead tree in your yard is inadvisable.

To get started, contact a local tree pruning service.