Signs Your Tree is Dying

When you’re going on a hike out in the Colorado woods, you may notice trees that are dying around you. In nature, a dying tree is a perfectly natural part of the our eco-system’s lifecycle. A dying tree in a forest helps contribute to wildlife habitat, cycling nutrients, helping with plant regeneration, limiting erosion, and assisting with drainage/soil moisture, and carbon storage. There are so many ways that a dead tree gives back to nature.

Beautiful trees in Colorado are a part of our amazing landscape!

A tree that dies in your backyard, however, it poses several problems for your property and the surrounding area. It’s important to determine if your tree is dying or just sick. This is where a tree care professional can come in and assess your tree properly.

Below are a few warning signs to help you understand whether your tree is merely sick or that it’s dead. Of course, it’s always helpful to reach out to a certified and licensed Denver tree service expert for further examination to help you make the best assessment! Did you know that we also offer tree services in Arvada? Visit our services page to learn more about tree removal and tree trimming services in Arvada, CO and other areas we service.

Bare branches

A common sign that your tree might be dying is when you start to see several dead branches. If your tree is not budding new leaves in the Spring or it’s bare in the Summer months, this is a good indication that there is a problem. A healthy tree will have leaf coverage on all the branches during specific seasons, like Summer. If you have dead branches on only one side of your tree, it’s often a sign that there is serious root damage or something wrong with the trunk that might be unseen by an untrained eye. Having an arborist come out to inspect the tree can help give you guidance on what might be happening!

An example of bare branches and a dead tree.


When you see a lot of fungus growing on the trunk of a tree, it’s another sign that your tree could be dying. Foliar/shoot type fungusis the most common type of fungus that you might see sprouting on one side of your tree. These might resemble large mushrooms that are clustered together. Not only do these cause cosmetic damage, but they also are a sign that your tree is experiencing internal rot. 

Photo by Marcus Lange on

Leaning Tree

When your tree starts to die, it will begin lean due to the roots losing their structure and their ability to hold the tree upright in the soil. When you see a tree start to lean suddenly vs. a tree having a more natural bend, it can be a sign of structural issues. You can tell if the lean is about structural issues by looking at the soil around the tree to see if there are cracks or heaving. We recommend that you keep a close eye on the tree to see if the leaning gets worse.  Trees leaning 15 degrees away from their original vertical position aren’t doing so well. 

Photo by Mike Andrei on

Dead Bark

Areas of dead bark or cankers that show up on trees are signs of fungal or bacterial infections. These infections can get beneath the tree’s surface and can open wounds. This can cause the bark to become sunken or for it all to fall off the tree resulting in exposure to the elements. A tree with several cankers can easily cause the tree to break or fall apart. 

Dead bark on a tree showing disease. If you see this, it’s time to reach out to a tree service professional!

Finding Resources

If you don’t feel comfortable identifying your tree’s health, consult on of our tree care professionals. Oftentimes, agricultural extensions provided by universities can help you determine your tree’s health.

What To Do Next

You can also reach out to an arborist, like one of our Denver tree care specialists! These individuals can help you determine the health of your tree and if tree removal is necessary. If it is, many arborists can help you with that as well! (We also offer tree removal in Arvada too!)

Our professionals also offer tree trimming services for the Denver, Arvada, Wheat Ridge and Lakewood community. Give us a call today!

For more information on caring for your tree, visit a few of our other posts:

Preparing Your Soil For Tree Care

Successfully Planting Your Trees and Shrubs

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