Common Tree Problems

Dead trees. Because dead trees do not sprout leaves, they are easily identified in the spring. A dead tree should be removed promptly, especially if it is in an area where it could create damage or injure someone if it fell. In fact, dead tree removal is the most common tree service job.

Fungus or mushrooms. Fungus or mushrooms growing on the tree or around the base of the tree are a sign of decaying or rotting wood and/or roots. When a tree’s roots decay or rot, the tree is dying. As the roots weaken, the tree loses support and is more likely to fall or to break. If the problem is identified early enough, a professional tree service may be able to save the tree.

Dead branches. Dead branches present a risk of falling, are unsightly, permit decay to enter the tree, and serve no useful purpose to the tree.

Raised earth around the tree base. Raised or broken earth around the tree base may be a sign that the tree is starting to uproot and may fall in a strong storm.

Leaning trees. Sometimes trees will naturally start to lean. The more a tree leans, the more likely it is to fall in a storm.

Missing bark. Because bark is the living portion of the tree, large areas of missing bark indicate a sick tree. Additionally, exposed wood leads to insect infestation.

Vines. Vine growth can severely impact tree health. Vines growing onto a tree can damage the bark, rob tree leaves of sunlight, and remove nutrients from the soil immediately surrounding the tree. Additionally, vines hide bark problems and provide a breeding ground for disease and insects. To remove vines, simply cut through the vine where it starts to climb the tree. All the vine above the cut will wither and die.

Emerald ash borer. Commonly found in June and July, these beetles attack ash trees in and around Chicago. The larvae tunnel through trees, leaving a telltale D-shaped hole.

Since many tree problems are easily identified, experts advise regularly examining your trees, looking for potential problems, such as the ones mentioned above. Homeowners may want to contact a certified arborist to spot potential problems or give advice.