How to Know if a Tree Needs to Come Down

While many homeowners, DIYers, and caretakers hate to say goodbye to a beloved tree, there comes a time when the benefits a tree provides outweigh the risks.

When is that time? To help you, we’ve gathered the most common warning signs that it may be time to cut down a tree on your property.

Dead Branches

When a tree starts to lose branches, it’s often a sign that the entire tree is dying. This can cause severe damage to your property if the tree happens to fall during a storm or on a calm day.

If a tree has holes in it’s trunk, this is another clear indication that it may need to come down. These holes can expose fungus and mushrooms that are dangerous for children and pets, as well as posing a risk for the overall health of your yard and home.

A common test that you can use to determine whether a tree is alive or dead is by skinning the bark of a small section. If the flesh underneath has a green hue, it’s still healthy. But if the flesh is dry or brown, it’s time to call in a professional for a diagnosis.

Damaged Roots

In nature, trees grow tall with few large limbs and branches. However, a tree on your property may have grown with too many limbs over time, making it vulnerable to damage in a storm. A professional can inspect a tree to determine whether the branches are too heavy and can fall in strong winds or during a sudden storm.

If a tree’s roots are damaged, it can affect the entire system of the plant. The roots of a tree give it survival and growth by absorbing water, oxygen and nutrients from the soil. When the roots are severed, the tree can’t take up these essentials, leaving it weak and more vulnerable to storms, wind, insect infestation, and other problems.

Root damage often shows up as a symptom in the canopy, with wilting leaves or yellowing. Root rot can also be a sign of root damage, with mushrooms and conks appearing on the base of a tree or in its trunk. This indicates that the tree is infected with a fungal disease that is slowly damaging the roots and causing decay.

Dead Leaves

When a tree loses its leaves, it typically becomes unhealthy and prone to fall damage. In the case of diseased trees that cannot be treated, removal is often the best option.

If a tree starts to look dead even though it still has leaves, it is a good idea to have an arborist come take a closer look at the situation. A dead tree can easily fall during a storm, causing severe property damage and injuries.

An arborist can also tell if a tree is infected with root rot or other serious conditions that will lead to death. A root rot infection makes it difficult for the tree to absorb nutrients from its roots, which can cause it to weaken and die.

In some cases, a tree needs to be removed because it is obstructing your view. Many people have experienced traffic accidents caused by obstructing trees or large branches. While it might be emotionally painful to say goodbye to a beloved tree, it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your family’s safety.


Trees are susceptible to pests and diseases. While a diseased or damaged tree can sometimes be saved, severe damage will almost always mean it needs to come down. This could include a tree that no longer produces leaves, a trunk that has large fungi growing on it, or a trunk with a deep fissure that weeps sap.

While it’s important to try to save a healthy tree, if a particular species isn’t doing well in your area or is causing problems on your property (such as rooting into the foundation of your house), then it may need to be removed and replaced with another species that can grow better. This is especially important for invasive trees that compete with native plants and suppress biodiversity.

Many homeowners have to remove obstructing trees that block driveways or street lights, but other trees may need to be taken down for public safety reasons. For example, if you have several stop signs or streetlights that are obstructed by tall or rotting trees, it’s a good idea to speak with a certified arborist about having them removed.


Trees are resilient and strong, but they can still suffer severe damage during storms or wind. If you notice large cracks in the trunk or bark peeling off, it could be a sign that the tree is deteriorating and needs to be removed.

A new lean or a shift in the angle of the tree can be another sign that it needs to be taken down. If the tree is leaning significantly, it’s important to call an arborist to see how serious the issue is. A professional will take into account factors like how long the lean has been occurring and whether it’s getting worse over time.

Oftentimes, trees need to come down because they are blocking street signs, driveways, or other structures on your property. Even if you haven’t experienced any damage from the obstructing tree, it can still be a safety hazard for anyone walking or driving by. Taking down the tree can prevent them from becoming a home for animals like skunks and raccoons. This can be an environmental concern too since dead and fallen trees can cause pollution.