Is Your Tree Suffering from Hidden Decay?

Trees are amazing, living organisms that spend decades beautifying our properties in Western Australia. As with any other living being, staying healthy requires nourishment, fresh water, a friendly environment and the occasional doctor visit.

The arborists at Tree Surgeons of WA are the doctors your tree needs. We’ve been caring for the local flora since our founding in 1980, and we’re now a leading provider of arboricultural services in Perth and greater WA. If you’re concerned that your trees are sick or suffering from hidden decay, we can help.

Here are six ways to check the health of your tree to determine if it’s time to call the Tree Surgeons of WA:

  1. Begin with the Branches

As a tree veers into old age or ailing health, the branches will begin to show early signs of wear. If they look unstable, appear to be loosely hanging on or are obviously brittle, then your tree is most likely in need of some serious love and attention.

But there are other more subtle signs to look for. For example, if the branches are covered with new leaves or even leaf buds, then there’s a chance your tree is still thriving. On the other hand, a lack of growth during spring and summer is a strong warning sign. If you note this, then try bending a smaller branch. If it breaks without bending, it is most likely either dead or dying.

  1. Inspect the Leaves

Perhaps the tree’s branches have leaves, but you still suspect that it’s health is failing. Check the leaves for signs of illness:

  • Discolouration, paleness or otherwise abnormal colours
  • Lumps and bumps in the tissue of the leaf
  • A tendency to drop leaves at unusual times (i.e. off-season)

Any of the above should be taken as signs that your tree is unwell. They could also indicate that your tree is suffering from structural faults inside. This places it at greater risk of dropping large branches or even falling over in a relatively light storm (or for seemingly no reason at all).

Don’t give up on your tree if this is the case. Call out Tree Surgeons of WA to have a look. Our expert arborists may be able to care for and ultimately salvage your tree.

  1. Consider the Space Your Tree Occupies

Some decorative trees seem perfectly suited to a space when they are first planted. Fast forward 20 years in the future, and the tree may well overgrow its space. Sometimes, this is the result of poor planning on behalf of the original landscaper. Others, it may have to do with the property owner expanding their built environment without giving thought to how this will affect the trees.

In any case, trees can run into health problems when they can’t make proper use of the space they’re growing in. An arborist can help make this determination. Likewise, it’s also important to consult with an expert if you’re planning to extend your home, add a patio or otherwise build out your property into an area occupied by one or more trees.

  1. Look for Signs of Infestation

Like any other living organism, trees can become ill. Sometimes, a specific blight will infest a region and tear through a specific population of trees. One example of this is the Marri canker, which has threatened our native Marri trees in the south-west wine country for years now. Likewise, Australian truffle orchards have recently struggled with several infestations:

  • Oak powdery mildew (leaf disease)
  • Australian honey fungus (root disease)
  • Saprophytic fungi (wood rot)

These are just a few examples, and each disease has its own signs and symptoms. Signs of aggressive fungus, powdery spots on leaves, dropping branches or overall poor health of a tree could be signs of sickness. An arborist will confirm this for you.

  1. Beware of Leaning Trunks

Trees don’t always grow straight up in the air – though they should in the most general sense. Slanted growth isn’t always a bad sign, but a tree that is obviously leaning more now than it once did is likely sending warning signs.

A leaning tree could have an eroding root system. Left untreated, a leaning tree with rotting roots will certainly fall. There’s no escaping this. If confirmed, the only responsible way forward is to remove the tree before it comes crashing down on whatever is beneath it.

  1. Scratch the Bark

The scratch test is not entirely scientific, but it is nonetheless a reliable indicator of tree health in some cases. Use a small pocketknife to scratch away a strip of the exterior bark. Beneath this, you should see the green cambium layer of bark, which is akin to our dermis, or an inner layer of skin. Learn all about the anatomy of a tree in this informative guide.

It only takes a light scratch to get the information you need. If the scratch reveals green tissue, then you know that the tree is still alive. If the tissue is dead, try another location. Bear in mind that trees sometimes sacrifice entire branches for their greater health, so a dead branch does not indicate a dead tree. Several dead branches or – worse yet – a dead trunk indicate much more serious problems.

Some trees also have multiple vertical trunks, in which case they should all be checked. It may be possible to remove one trunk whilst pouring extra love and care into another with the hopes of saving it from the same fate.

Call Tree Surgeons of WA If Your Tree Is Showing Signs of Decay

If any of the above tests reveal signs of illness or decay in your tree, then it’s time to call upon the arborists at Tree Surgeons of WA. We’ll diagnose your trees and determine whether they can be salvaged or need to be removed. In either event, you can rest assured that we’ll safely and in the best interests of your trees and of your overall property to find a reasonable solution.