One of the beauties of springtime is watching the bare limbs of deciduous trees fill out with new, soft leafy foliage. If your tree doesn’t leaf out according to schedule, you could start wondering, “how can I tell if my tree is dying?” You can administer several tests, like the tree scratch test, to see if your tree is still alive. Continue reading to learn how to tell if a tree is dying or dead.


Dead or Alive?

Days of high temps and insufficient rain take its toll on trees in several parts of the world. Even drought-tolerant trees become strained after many years without adequate water, particularly in soaring hot temperatures. You need to find out if trees around your home are dead as quickly as you can so they can be removed in a timely manner. Dead trees can fall over in high winds. With shifting soils, when they fall, they can cause damage. It is critical to understand how to tell if a tree is dying or dead.

The first “test” for deciding the status of a tree is to examine it. Walk around it and take a real good look. If the tree has healthy limbs covered with leaf buds or new leaves, it is in all probability alive. If the tree doesn’t have buds or leaves, it might or might not be alive. You could do more tests or contact an arborist to do a comprehensive tree inspection for you.


Scratching Bark

Tampa Tree Care Service How to tell If Tree Is Dying

Scratching the bark to inspect the tree

One of the top ways to see if a tree is dead is the tree scratch test. Just under the outer layer of the trunk is the cambium layer. If a tree is alive, this is green. If a tree is dead, it is dry and brown. Scratching bark to see if the tree is alive entails removing some of the outside layer of bark to see the cambium layer. Use a pocketknife or your fingernail to lift a tiny strip of exterior bark.

Don’t take a big chunk out of the tree. Take just enough to see the under layer. This does not always work so well if you scratch one branch; the branch might be dead, and the rest of the tree is alive.