How to tell if your trees are healthy

A healthy tree bearing red apples

Even the most carefully tended trees can suffer damage and disease. Unfortunately, when your trees are ill, the signs can be subtle. If you know what a healthy tree looks like, you’ll be able to identify potential problems early on and get the right help.

 

These are the features of a healthy tree:

 

One central leader

In this instance, ‘leader’ refers to the vertical stem at the top of the trunk. Proper pruning ensures that a tree has only one leader as it helps to add strength and stability to the tree structure. Although there are exceptions (some fruit trees, bonsai and topiaries), a tree with more than one leader is at risk of splitting.

 

New growth every year

Trees that fail to produce new growth every year may are not healthy. You can check the growth by noting the distance between buds from year to year. Keep in mind that some trees grow faster than others. As long as your trees are producing new growth every year, it’s a positive sign.

 

The absence of dead and broken branches

It’s important to prune dead and damaged branches as soon as you spot them because they provide the ideal conditions for pests and diseases to take hold.

 

If you’re not sure whether a branch is dead, there’s a simple test you can do – scrape the branch with your thumb nail. If the branch is living, it will be green underneath. You can also test a branch by bending it gently. If the branch snaps, it’s dead; if it bends easily, it’s alive.

 

A smooth and solid trunk

Unless it’s a feature of the tree, such as the popular Fever Tree, the bark shouldn’t be loose or peeling. Look out for cracks, holes and fungi too. When you’re working in your garden, take care not to accidentally gouge the bark with sharp tools. An open wound provides an opportunity for pests and diseases to attack.

 

A full canopy of leaves

With evergreens, it’s easy to spot a bare patch in the canopy, but with deciduous trees you’ll have to wait for the spring. A bare patch in the canopy may be a sign of:

 

  • A nutrient deficiency
  • Incorrect pruning technique
  • Infection or infestation
  • Poisoning (usually from incorrect pesticide usage)

 

Perky leaves and stems

Trees tend to wilt when they’re stressed, so rigid stems and fresh-looking leaves are a good sign. Common causes of wilting include:

 

  • Disease
  • Too little or too much water
  • Too much sun
  • Restricted roots

 

Normal leaf colour, shape and size

Irregularly shaped leaves or leaves that are overly yellow are a sure sign your tree is in trouble. This may be a sign of disease, pest infestation, lack of nutrients or damage caused by pesticides. Find out what the leaves on your trees should look like. If you notice any change in the size, shape or colour of the leaves, call in a tree care expert to assess your tree.

 

Get a professional opinion

If you need a tree audit, you can contact Brands Tree Felling and schedule an appointment with our in-house horticulturist. Getting your trees assessed by a professional will set your mind at ease and you’ll get the right advice to ensure your trees live a long and happy life.