Should You Cut Down That Tree? 10 Ways to Tell

Alison Kasch
Written by Alison Kasch
Updated February 4, 2022
Large brick house surrounded by tall trees
Photo: Westend61 / Westend61 / Getty Images

Highlights

  • Trees can cause mold or even disturb your home’s foundation if they’re too close.

  • Some diseased trees are salvageable, while others require removal.

  • Hollow trunks and many dying branches usually point to a dead tree.

  • Excessive storm damage may call for removal.

  • All dead trees should get removed from your property.

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Saying goodbye is never easy, especially when it’s to your faithful oak tree that’s been around since you moved in. Unfortunately, though, there are times when it’s necessary for your landscape and your safety. Here are the top signs your tree needs to be cut down.

1. The Tree Is Too Close for Comfort

When trees get close to your home or other structures around your property, this can lead to serious issues. Is the tree really close to your home? There’s a possibility that its roots can uplift the foundation, so you’ll want to address the issue immediately.

Even if the tree isn’t right up against your house, branches touching the siding can cause mold growth. Keep up your tree care routine and regularly trim to avoid any trouble. Trees can also block the sun from reaching a portion of your home and cause other mold problems, which can be pretty costly to fix.

2. You Notice Weak or Dead Tree Leaves and Bark

A diseased tree will often reveal telltale signs. Diseases don’t just interfere with your tree’s beauty—they can also weaken the tree, making it more prone to falling down or losing limbs despite your best tree care habits. In some cases, the disease is manageable, and you may be able to remove the affected portions through tree trimming. However, if the disease is severe, you should look into cutting down the tree. An ISA-certified arborist or a tree removal company can assess the tree and how badly the disease affects it.

3. The Trunk Is Hollow

Noticing cavities or hollowness in a tree trunk is usually bad news. These signal problems with the tree’s structural integrity, meaning it’s on the decline. Even with the best tree care routine, a weak trunk can’t support all its limbs properly, which could spell danger for your home or your family. Branches or even large limbs could fall at a moment’s notice.

4. There’s a Growing Number of Dead or Dying Tree Branches

Dead branches here and there are part of a tree’s natural growth cycle. However, if you can’t seem to keep up with the dying portions of your tree, this is a bad sign. Large, dead branches near the crown of a dying tree are especially dangerous, as these can fall hard and suddenly. As a general rule, if over half of the tree is in bad shape, then it’s time to take it down.

5. The Tree Might Fall in a Short Time

Does looking at the tree make you a little nervous? That instinct usually isn’t wrong. When a tree starts to gradually lean to one side, or just change its shape, there’s a chance it could fall. Since this can do some severe damage to your home, it’s best to err on the side of caution and get rid of it.

6. A Large Limb Looks Like It Might Come Down

Even if the tree itself doesn’t come down, large branches can do considerable damage if they fall. If you notice large portions of the tree that are leaning or sagging, don’t wait to remove them. 

7. You’ve Seen the Most Damage After a Storm

Big tree with a broken limb
Photo: onfilm / E+ / Getty Images

Storm damage can seriously traumatize a tree—and it may or may not be repairable. When this happens, you may be able to trim and prune off the damaged portions. However, if you’re unhappy with the tree’s look afterward, you might decide to have it taken down. A local tree service can evaluate the damage and help you save the tree if it’s possible.

8. There’s No More Healthy, New Green Life

A tree with no fresh, new growth visible is likely in bad shape. Weak and brittle branches, dead or browning leaves, and a trunk that isn’t what it used to be are all signs that a tree is beyond repair. Compare the tree to the other ones around your property—how does it stack up in terms of branch and leaf health? If the other healthy trees around are thriving while this one seems to be dying, removing your dead tree may become your only option. 

9. The Tree Is Dead

Dead tree standing in the yard
Photo: Aitor Diago / Moment / Getty Images

A dead tree should not remain on your property, even if it appears structurally sound. Dead trees can become a bed and breakfast for bugs. More often than not, the constant munching will eventually take the tree down. 

10. Most Tree Companies Have Told You It Needs to Go

If you’ve done your due diligence and had multiple experts out to take a look, chances are the majority verdict is the correct one. Even if it hurts to get rid of the tree, always listen to the professionals. Homeowners are responsible for their own trees, so if anything does happen, you might be liable for the damage. 

Hiring Quick and Efficient Tree Removal Services

Whether you need emergency tree removal, proactive service, or just an evaluation from a certified arborist, it’s important to seek an experienced professional. Trees are unpredictable, so large removal jobs don’t make a safe or suitable DIY. Get in touch with a local tree expert to learn more about your options. 

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