Signs of a Sick Tree

Signs of a Sick Tree

If you were strolling through your yard and noticed something looked off on your tree, chances are there’s a problem.

First off, kudos to you for noticing! The earlier you spot problems on your tree, the sooner you can take action. Proactive monitoring and treatment are the best way to keep your trees healthy.

Now, the trickier part is identifying what’s wrong with your tree.

Scroll below to see what problem may be plaguing your tree. Use this as a starting point. To confirm an official diagnosis, have a certified arborist inspect your trees in person.

The Most Common Tree Question We Hear at Davey

“What’s wrong with my tree?” is without a doubt the top question we hear from you online and at your home!

Here are a some of the questions our tree doctors received recently:

  • Dr. S. from Ohio asked, “There's a tree in my backyard that looks diseased (spotty, yellowing leaves) and at least one branch is completely dead. I'd like to know what's wrong with it, and whether it can be saved. Do you do this type of work?”

  • Jeshua from British Columbia wondered, “I have a sick pine tree and need some help keeping it healthy. The new growth appears to be dying. Would you be able to come and take a look?”

  • Joshua had a question about his sick maple tree, “I have an Autumn Blaze Maple that has been sick the last few years. I want to know what has been wrong with it and how to treat the tree if I can, or how to replace the tree if I can't treat it.”

  • Jennifer from Ontario asked about her sick birch tree, “I have a birch tree in the front of my yard. One trunk looks quite sick. I'd love a consult on if it can be saved, or the cost for removal.”

  • Karen wondered what was wrong with her orange tree, “I have a mature orange tree that seems to be sick. Leaves are yellowing and curling up. I would like help to prevent tree from dying.”

How to See if Your Tree is Sick

If you noticed something odd on your tree, like those above did, examine your tree to see what other troubles may be lurking.

Here’s how to visually inspect your tree. Or, learn what to expect when a Davey expert inspects your trees during a consultation.

  1. Start from the ground up.

  2. Begin examining the roots. Look for: the ground heaving up, severed roots or signs of decay or fungi, such as mushrooms.

  3. Then move to the tree’s root collar, the area of the trunk just above the soil. Look for: peeling or loose bark, cracks or deep slits in the tree.

  4. Now scrutinize the rest of the trunk for signs of decay. Look for: signs of swelling, cavities, soft or decaying wood or small holes.

  5. Finally, look up to the canopy, the upper layer of branches and leaves. Keep an eye out for: 

    • Dead or dying branches that hang low, lack bark and have no leaves

    • Weak, V-shaped branch unions, where two branches have grown together

    • Excessively thick, dense canopies that could easily break

    • Leaf problems – anything from spots or holes to odd colored or deformed leaves

    • Cankers, a dead section of bark on branches or limbs

    • Leaning limbs or branches

Most Common Tree Problems

Now, you’ve collected the information, let’s begin to narrow down the list to see what’s wrong with your tree.

If you suspect your tree is sick, schedule a free consultation with the tree doctor today.


  • The Tree Doctor November 27, 2017 > Hi there, Ellen. Unfortunately, Davey Tree doesn't provide residential tree service in your neck of the woods! In the meantime, you may find this article helpful, Ellen:
  • Ellen Martell November 26, 2017 >Have two Japanese maples with different problems...can someone come and help us diagnose our issues? We planted these trees ten plus years ago along with several others and have never had any problems
  • The Tree Doctor July 11, 2017 >Hi Jeremy. This sounds like it could be leaf scorch caused by bacteria and root problems or soil conditions. You can find out more information about leaf scorch, on our blog, We would also recommend setting up a free consultation with your local office. I’ve passed along your request to your local office, so they should be reaching out soon to set up an appointment. Or if you’d prefer, you can contact them at 866.828.5007 or Either way, talk more soon, Jeremy.
  • Jeremy Hoover July 8, 2017 >Hi, I'm in Stoney Creek, ON and I have a large white oak tree in my backyard. This year, after a lot of rainfall, it has crispy, dried up leaves. It's worse at the top than the bottom. Should I be concerned about this? What would the cost of an assessment be? Thanks!
  • The Tree Doctor June 13, 2017 >Hi Elena. Sorry to hear your tree leaves are not looking very healthy! It would help if we knew what type of tree you have. Use this blog to find out, or email us a picture at Or, you can schedule a free consultation with your local office to diagnose the issue. I’ve passed along your request to your local office, so they should be reaching out soon to set up a free consultation. Or if you’d prefer, you can contact them at 866.355.8093 or Either way, talk more soon, Elena.
  • Elena Ho June 11, 2017 >Part of the leaves look burnt, we treated the tree quite a few years ago for leaves problem, don't know if this has to do with the fake grass put close to the trunk of the tree, definitely need help....
Add a comment:
Related Blog Posts

Request a consultation

  • How would you like to be contacted?
*Please fill out all required fields.