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How To Make a Sick Tree Healthy Again and What to do When Your Tree is Dying

Do you think one of your trees is dying or in poor health? Is it suffering from some of these obvious symptoms like weak branches snapping, excessive leaf drop, sap oozing from the trunk, signs of borers (insects), trunk decay, loss of colour, excessive leaning or peeling bark?

If your tree is suffering one or more of these conditions then it is definitely stressed and could possibly die so let’s look at how to revive it. We are going to avoid fungal infections as these are complicated and so more difficult to treat unless you are an arborist.



Main Reasons for Poor Tree Health

The following is just a broad list of common reasons why a tree may have become unhealthy, not a tree that has been unhealthy since planting. Established trees are much more valuable and important and so these are the following reasons that can cause a previously healthy tree to become sick and potentially die.

Know ing the exact cause of your trees poor health will obviously make treating it more successful. Some of the above ca be misdiagnosed or confusing if you have more than one symptom, if so the you really should consult your local arborist.


Over watering or under watering a young tree can be harmful. Poor drainage can also contribute to this. If there is excessive water around the trunk then possibly the soil has become impacted or eroded (exposed roots) or there is suddenly more water than the ground drain. Check our tree type and see how much water it needs during dry season. Watering is a very simple and speedy remedy.


Its very easy to think that common or garden (excuse the pun!) fertiliser will help any tree or shrub, but this is a myth. Lawn fertiliser certainly wont help tree roots ad other specific fertilisers will contain the wrong chemical balance for your tree causing all sorts of problems like dropping leaves, discolouration or excessive growth.

It’s easy to think that fertiliser is the cure for a sick tree but it can often be the cause. Over fertilising can also lead to chemical build up which can be poisonous to your tree. Again, check your tree type and if you have good drainage regular watering will eventually remove the excess fertiliser.


Over pruning or bad pruning technique can easily lead to a stressed tree (which can cause a lot of symptoms) but it can also lead to instability like leaning which is dangerous. If you have some diseased branches and you prune them and move on to others, you will be spreading the disease unless you sterilise your shears or pruning tools. Knowing where to prune a branch and at what angle and also what tie of year is important. Minimal pruning is safer but anything more should be done by an arborist.

Storm Damage or Splitting Branches

For large scale issues like these then the only option is to consult your local qualified arborist. If anything sudden like a storm has affected the tree and its leaning or lost branches it can become unstable and prone to falling which is dangerous.

Slowly splitting branches or trunk damage are almost certainly signs of pests or fungi which again should only be tackled by a professional.

If the above are corrected over time your tree will slowly recover (sometimes quickly depending on the type and severity of the problem. Established trees are hardier so there is a good chance your tree will be back to proper health in a season or two, but if not – contact the experts.