When to Remove a Tree

I’ve recently had to deal with a dying tree and ended up removing it, after tons of research of course, so It inspired me to write about it and help some of my readers. For more read below.

If a tree in your yard is showing signs of being in trouble or may even being dying or already dead, it can be a hard decision as to whether to remove it or not.

Trees can after all often be the focal point of a back yard garden, usually being the largest and oldest vegetation in it. It can be hard therefore to look out and see a tree that has formed part of the established image of your house and yard slowly die.

On the other hand of course you might not care at all about the tree itself – but you might be concerned about the tree-sized hole in your bank account paying for a gardener or tree surgeon might leave behind!

Whatever place you’re coming at the problem from however, here are a few considerations for you to help you make the right decision:


Especially important if the tree is showing signs of disease is if it is near other trees that could also be infected. A tree that spreads a mould or disease to its neighbors is just going to multiply your problems.

More obvious though, map out the route of the tree should it fall, and decide if any structures, vehicle parking areas, etc are potentially going to be in the way should the tree (or a significant part of it) come crashing down.

Don’t only plan for a complete toppling of the entire tree itself however – also look for dead or damaged branches, and figure out where they are going to land should they become detached.

When assessing damage after a storm or high winds, note that it is very unlikely a tree will recover from losing more than around 25% of its branches in one go.


By strength I mean the tree’s ability to remain upright and/or in one piece.

For example, the two parts of the tree’s trunk essential for it’s survival, called the Xylem and the Phloem, exist on the outer edges of the trunk. Therefore it is perfectly possible for a tree to survive whilst being almost completely hollow in the middle. This off course will compromise the strength of the trunk however, potentially making the tree dangerous. As a rough guide, if more than one third of the tree’s interior is rotten or already missing then it’s time for the tree to come down.

Likewise, a damaged root system will also affect the structural integrity of the tree. This damage could come during home construction or landscaping projects within the garden or a very heavy period of rain eroding the soil the roots are buried in. If more than 50% of the root is damaged then again the tree should come down.

Finally a leaning tree is never a good thing, and a previously vertical tree suddenly taking on a lean is indicative of extensive damage to the root system. Any lean over 15 degrees means the tree would be safer coming down sooner rather than toppling later.


I asked these simple questions of my tree service provider when making an assessment and so should you. If ever in doubt call in a professional tree surgeon – a consultation fee now is going to be far cheaper than a home insurance claim in the future!

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