Deciding When To Remove A Dead Tree

Posted on: 15 March 2016

It's important to understand the important role that dead trees can play in a local ecosystem before having one removed from your property. If you have a large yard or a bit of land, it may not be necessary to immediately have the tree ripped out. The following guide can walk you through the decision.

The Role of Dead Trees

Dead trees, sometimes referred to as standing deadwood, can be a welcome addition. These trees attract a variety of insects and micro-organisms, which provide feed for a variety of birds. Woodpeckers and sapsuckers are especially attracted to these trees for feeding and nesting. In areas where woodpeckers damage homes, a dead tree can lure them away from your house.

The trees can also house other birds, including some songbirds that nest in abandoned woodpecker holes. Squirrels and other small mammals may also make a home in the tree.

Safety Concerns

Providing habitat is important, but not as important as safety. Eventually, a dead tree will rot to the point of collapse. A falling tree can damage property or even injure someone beneath it. There may also be branches that can drop off and hurt someone, which is why these dead overhead branches are sometimes called widowmakers.

Another concern is the reason that the tree has died or is in the process of dying. You do not want to leave a diseased tree in place to spread the pathogens to other trees in the yard.

Assessment Tip

If you have a dead or dying tree, contact a tree service for an assessment. They can determine the cause of death and whether it is a concern for the health and safety of your other landscape plants. If they determine that it doesn't need immediate removal, the next step will be to assess the danger in the canopy. A standard practice is to delimb the tree. This entails removing the majority of the large limbs so all that remains in the trunk. This will provide the necessary animal habitats while minimizing limb drop and blow down dangers.

Once this is done, continue to assess the tree on an annual basis so you can have it felled and removed once the roots have become unstable. This way the tree stands for as long as is safe, providing necessary habitat. If the tree does have to be taken down, the tree removal service can take it away or leave it in place where it can continue to add to the local ecosystem.