Sumo Gardener

Caring For Sick Trees In Your Garden

When a tree develops an illness, it's important to take steps to repair or remove it. An undiagnosed sick tree could spread the disease to surrounding trees, or fall, causing damage to property or people. 

Moreover, it may cause fatalities, and in the US, about 100 people get killed by falling trees or branches every year. Here's our guide on how to deal with sick trees. 


Depending on the tree's illness, tree removal services may be needed. However, before moving onto this step, it's important to keep an eye on trees that may display illnesses or damage, and to contact an arborist for the best solution moving forward. 

Signs of Sick Trees

Signs of a Sick Tree

By keeping an eye on your trees, you can catch some of the early signs of tree diseases. By addressing problems early, you may be able to prevent small problems from becoming disasters.

Amongst the common symptoms of a problem are structural problems. For example, cracks are signs of a sick tree. Cracks may appear naturally on a healthy tree, but deep and widening ones may be a sign of a bigger issue. Trees should also be inspected for overall structural concerns.

Trees should grow upright, and leaning to one side or the other may indicate that the tree is at risk of falling down. Storms or pruning incorrectly can lead to this problem. While this is not a disease, it could lead to the death of a tree.

Decay and deadwood may also be noticed. Decay often appears with an expanded base, dead branches, and wood that is soft and breakable. Deadwood is usually apparent in the branches, which display as dry and easily breakable. This is the most serious concern for a tree that is dead or dying. 

Canker Diseases

signs of tree disease

One of the most common tree diseases is canker disease. Cankers are areas of dead bark, and, similar to sores on a human, they are caused by bacteria or fungi that can lead to decay.

There are various forms of canker diseases that can affect certain tree species such as poplar, pine, and willow, and it occurs when fungi or bacteria enters the bark through a deep crack or wound.

Once the tree is riddled with canker, it becomes more difficult for nutrients to flow from the roots upwards. If the trunk is the affected part, then it's inevitable that the tree will die. However, if the cankers are in the branches, the tree can be saved by pruning or cutting off the affected branches. 

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Make sure to make smooth and clean cuts while pruning so that your tree can defend itself against deadly bacteria, and clean your pruning tools with a mixture of warm water and a little bleach to avoid contaminating other trees or plants. 

To prevent cankers, it's important to inspect your tree frequently for injuries. Vehicles, inclement weather, pets, and even people can cause damage to trees, so if there appears to be a wound in the trunk, you may need to cut it out to repair it.

Cut out an oval shape around the wound, and let it heal naturally. Don't use sealants as they may interfere with proper healing. Meanwhile, if your tree has deep holes or cavities in the trunk, you can remedy this problem by filling holes with tree filling, but it may be best to leave this procedure to tree experts. 

Powdery Mildew

Powdery Mildew starts out as a grey or white coating on foliage, then later on, the leaves become misshapen, turn yellow, and fall out prematurely

If the leaves of your tree suddenly develop a powdery white coating, it may have a fungal disease called powdery mildew. It starts out as a grey or white coating on foliage, then later on, the leaves become misshapen, turn yellow, and fall out prematurely.

This type of tree disease usually affects plants and trees in areas where there is a lot of humidity. If your area experiences humid summers and has very little rain, you may notice a lot of trees being infected by this fungal disease.

The trees that are susceptible to powdery mildew include oak, apple trees, and crape myrtle. Plants such as lilacs, strawberries, and roses are also more likely to get infected than other types of plant species. 

Preventing powdery mildew from damaging your trees can be a challenge, especially if you live in a humid state such as Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, or Michigan.

If you're about to start a garden, avoid planting susceptible trees and plants, or plant them somewhere in your backyard where they can get early morning sun. Regular exposure to sunlight will reduce your tree's chances of getting infected. 

You can also spray a mixture of baking soda and water on the leaves at the first signs of fungal infection to prevent your tree's condition from getting worse. 

Check out our guide on How to Use Potassium Bicarbonate for Powdery Mildew.

Calling an Arborist

Arborists can even take a look at all the trees on a property and identify any at-risk trees.

When any of these signs and symptoms are noted, it's best to contact an arborist for an assessment. An arborist is knowledgeable in tree health, caring for sick trees, and can provide a thorough assessment of the tree, in addition to recommending the best course of sick tree treatment.

Arborists can even take a look at all the trees on a property and identify any at-risk trees. Tree removal costs can vary depending on the size of the tree and its location, but it's certainly worth contacting a professional rather than attempting the job yourself.

An arborist will review any trees with concerns and assess if diseases are present. For structural concerns, they can brace the trees for support, provide pruning tips, and spray trees with chemicals to prevent any diseases from spreading.

For a tree that is beyond repair, an arborist can also remove the tree, using specialized equipment and recommend trees to replace it. 

Tree Problems and their Solutions 

What to do with Problem Trees?

It is natural for trees to die, dry out, and have problems with their growth. Thus, sometimes we need to consider tree removal services to ensure the safety of the people and to avoid collateral damage if ever.

Listed below are tree problems and their corresponding solutions.

What to do with Problem Trees

Common Tree Problems

The trees in our environment can also die or face complications. But these problem trees can always be solved by a solution to prevent any negative impact in the future. 

It involves the recommendation of professional ecologists, environmentalists, and arborists. Moreover, let us discuss the common tree problems that we normally find in our community.

Lack of Mineral Recycling and Nutrients

example of a problem tree

Lack of mineral recycling and nutrients is the most common problem of trees. There are trees within our community that hinder their growth and cause complications in producing fruits and leaves.

If the tree already has leaves and fruits, it might decompose faster that can lead to a barren tree. The lack of mineral recycling and nutrients is a tree problem that occurs in the soil where the roots are situated. 

The tree cannot absorb the beneficial and necessary nutrients for it to develop and to produce its byproducts successfully.

Compacted Soils

Soil compaction happens when the soil is pressed together. It reduces the pore spaces that lead to water infiltration and drainage. Water is an essential input factor that a tree must have to grow. 

If the soils are compacted where they are planted, the soil cannot absorb the water, likewise to the roots.

Pests on the Tree

Boring insects create holes in the tree that damage the stem, roots, and twigs of the tree

A stressed tree is another example of a problem tree. It is commonly found in parks and backyards of our community. The stress might be produced from basal damage or storm damage. It is where the tree becomes the target of pests like beetles that destroy the trees.

Aside from beetles, the main danger for trees is the boring insects. They create holes in the tree that damage the stem, roots, and twigs of the tree. It can kill the tree if preventive measures are not applied and not treated immediately.

Nature and Mechanical Damage

Nature can also inflict damage to itself. For example, storms and lightning strikes can severely damage the tree’s base and stem which can lead to fatality.

Animals can dig holes near the roots that may affect them. Furthermore, lawn equipment can also damage trees by unintentionally hitting the trunks and roots. These interrupt the nutrients and water to spread throughout the tree.

Limited Root Space

Trees expands exponentially over time that can damage buildings, obstacles, and other objects

The problem with trees is when they expand their roots. It expands exponentially over time that can damage buildings, obstacles, and other objects. And while it expands and destroys things, the tree is also inflicting damage to itself that can cause fatality if the damage is severe. 

These are some of the problems with a tree. These are natural problems that happen commonly but they have a remedy. In the next part, we will discuss the possible solutions to each of the problems.

Tree Problem Solutions

Despite the natural process of damaging and dying of the tree, arborists still have some solutions to solve these natural processes to save the trees. Using the solutions will not stop the natural process of the tree dying, but only preserving life and exterminating the problems.

By using fertilizers that have the necessary nutrients and minerals, the tree will come back to its former glory and will live long

Fertilization of the Tree

A tree can sometimes be malnourished which is related to the first problem stated above. It limits the tree's capability to produce leaves and fruits which is a problem for people who farm fruits and use trees to beautify the surrounding.

However, by using fertilizers that have the necessary nutrients and minerals, the tree will come back to its former glory and will live long.

Utilization of Organic Matter

Organic Matter is the basic and easiest way to solve soil compaction. It is defined as something from a plant or an animal that will undergo a decomposition process that will release nutrients to the soil that will soften it.

It can also be used to fertilize the ground since it will release nutrients to the tree.

Consult an Arborist

An arborist is a tree doctor that will solve any types of tree problems, especially the pests. Pests are not easy to get rid of, especially if they consider the tree as their home. However, arborists can come up with a treatment that can solve the issue.

Furthermore, always monitor the tree to prevent any pests from invading. Also, contact an arborist when you are experiencing any problems with the girdling roots of the tree. They are professionals that can assess whether what measure can be used to avoid any potential risks that the roots may cause.

Inspect and Monitor the Tree

Solutions to Problem trees

Inspecting and Monitoring the tree is important. In inspecting, you will notice any problems with the tree that can be solved by using a basic remedy.

It can save you a budget if you are looking for a cheap solution. Monitoring it also prevents any future problems from happening such as the existence of pests in the tree.

Take Care of the Tree

Taking care of the tree is the best preventive measure to fight off all the problems from occurring. If you take care of it and maintain a healthy tree, the plant may not suffer from any complications. Thus, preventing any future problems.

Contacting a Tree Removal Service

If the tree faced a great problem that cannot be solved, considering a tree removal would be the best. To avoid any risks and threats that might happen when the tree dies, removing it right away will be the best idea.

Wrapping Up Our Guide on Caring and Dealing with Sick Trees

These are a few ways that homeowners can keep their property's trees safe and healthy, as well as address any concerns. Keep an eye on your trees in order to maintain a healthy property for years to come. Follow this guide to avoid getting sick trees in your garden. 

About the Author Ann Katelyn

I'm Ann Katelyn, Creator and Chief Author of Sumo Gardener. Since I was a child I've always been fascinated with plants and gardens, and as an adult this has developed into my most loved hobby. I have dedicated most of my life to gardening and started Sumo Gardener as a way to express my knowledge about gardening with the hope of helping other people's gardens thrive.

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