How to Save a Dying Tree – 5 Ways

The nearby trees and plants must be cared for because they are living beings. Mother Earth receives many advantages from the trees and plants, as do we, humans. The surroundings are given life and color by trees.

Although they sustain the environment, trees occasionally succumb to neglect and perish. There are many ways a tree might express its distress even though it cannot tell you what the issue is.

Well, in this article, we discuss how to save a dying tree.

For a dying tree, dead twigs and brittle branches may indicate an issue with nutrition flow, while sap pouring from holes may indicate a borer insect infestation.

Common Signs of a Dying Tree

  • No leaves
  • Misshapen or discolored leaves
  • Exposed roots
  • Root rot
  • Fungal bodies growing on the tree or around the roots
  • A leaning tree
  • Bark falling off
  • No green under the bark
  • Open wounds
  • Softness or decay

Why Save a Dying Tree?

It is worthwhile to make the effort to save a tree for a variety of reasons. For starters, growing a tree into a big, mature tree requires years of care and upkeep. You don’t want to spend 20 years nurturing and safeguarding a tree only to have to start over after getting rid of it.

A tree can increase the value of your home and its curb appeal when it is well-maintained.In the ideal location, a sizable tree can offer wind and heat protection. On a hot summer day, a healthy tree providing shade for your home’s western side will assist keep your house cooler.

Trees are helpful for the environment as they release fresh oxygen and provide a habitat for wildlife like birds and squirrels. Trees can provide a calming impact and add color to your outdoor area.

How to Save a Dying Tree – 5 Ways

Sometimes it might not be possible to save a tree. However, if you identify the issue quickly enough, you can take some steps to restore your tree’s stunning health.

  • Identify the Symptoms of a Dying Tree
  • Identifying the Problem
  • Fix Watering Problems
  • Appropriate Mulching Practice
  • Use Fertilizers Appropriately

1. Identify the Symptoms of a Dying Tree

Some individuals struggle to distinguish a fading tree from a dead one. They are utterly dissimilar from one another. Both appear to be dead, dried out, and devoid of any sign of green foliage, which is where the confusion begins.

Therefore, determine whether a tree is dying or already dead before attempting to save it. It would be ineffective and time-consuming to try to nourish a dead tree back to life.

The following indications of a dying tree include:

  • Bent structure – The tree is not standing straight because its root is weakening.
  • Cracks – The tree’s trunk has a persistent fissure.
  • Decay – The tree’s surface is covered in fungi or mushrooms.
  • Extremely dry wood — A dying tree will exhibit this symptom. The branches appear lifeless and are easily breakable when under pressure.
  • Few or No Leaves – Dying trees frequently have fewer leaves than healthy trees. Several branches have leaves on them.

2. Identifying the Problem

An arborist is qualified and knowledgeable to diagnose and resolve any tree issue.

The next step is to identify the reason why the tree is dying since you are now aware of the symptoms of a dying tree. It can be difficult to pinpoint the specific cause, so you may want to speak with an arborist for advice. By doing this, your tree’s chances of survival will increase.

Common Problems with Trees

  • Tree Injuries
  • Sickness
  • Unbalanced Soil pH
  • Insect Infestation
  • Climate/Environmental
1. Tree Injuries

Whether Mother Nature or Man produced the surface, it is crucial to remove any loose bark, cut away any dead or damaged bark, and leave a clean, smooth surface.

2. Sickness

To rescue the tree, find out what the sickness is as soon as you can. To stop the disease from spreading, remove the diseased regions. To treat the illness, fungicides, and pesticides may also be needed.

3. Unbalanced Soil pH

If your tree’s preferred soil pH differs from your soil, your tree may be in distress. For a thorough study, you can either send your soil to be tested at your local cooperative extension lab or buy a DIY soil pH test kit online or at your neighborhood garden center.

4. Insect Infestation

There are a variety of pests that can wreak havoc on a tree’s interior, including insects. Some of these pests include termites, ants, and roaches, which, if unregulated and untreated, could result in the demise of the entire household.

5. Climate/Environmental

When Mother Nature whips up a storm, nothing gets in the way. A tree may split due to wind or lightning, leaving open wounds that need to be pruned.

If the overall climate, including the microclimates in your yard, doesn’t suit the tree’s tastes, the tree may also become stressed. A tree that prefers lots of sunlight but is placed in a shaded area, for instance, will have a hard time flourishing.

3. Fix Watering Problems

Some trees’ health may be harmed by water. Problems with moisture are frequently to blame for a tree’s propensity to die. Too much or too little water can be harmful to mature trees. All living things, including humans, animals, and trees, can die from dehydration.

Make sure your trees are adequately fed so they can grow strong and healthy. Give your younger trees a little more care during seasons of excessive rain or drought because naturally grown trees are more likely than young trees to endure weather extremes.

When a tree is experiencing drought and extreme heat, you can either use water alone or water combined with fertilizer to assist enhance the health of your tree.

If the area around the tree’s base is frequently flooded, you might want to install a drain or find a means to increase the region’s exposure to sunshine.

Signs of Overwatering

  • Soft or soggy roots
  • Lack of grass
  • Moss or mold around the tree
  • New growth withers
  • Green leaves break easily

Signs of Underwatering

  • Wilted leaves
  • Undersized leaves
  • Leaf scorch
  • Early leaf drop
  • Untimely fall color

Set your garden hose to a high stream and give the tree between 0.5 and 2 minutes of watering. Regulate the nozzle to prevent over-watering the soil. Set up an automated sprinkler system if you don’t have time to water the tree.

4. Appropriate Mulching Practice

How can a tree be saved by utilizing mulch? One method of nourishing the soil around your tree is to apply mulch. But if done incorrectly, it can endanger the trees. Make sure not to cover the base with too much mulch.

Put only enough mulch around the roots to allow for breathing. Make sure the mulch is in direct contact with the roots by preparing the ground. Make the depth at least five inches.

Apply the mulch sparingly—just 1.5 inches using your rake. By doing this, it aids in the prevention of a variety of other tree issues, such as bacterial and fungal infections.

Trees in decline may be saved with organic mulch. It includes things like wheat straw, compost, and tree bark chips.

5. Use Fertilizers Appropriately

A dying tree can benefit from the loose, airy soil that results from using organic fertilizers.

Another thing that can help you with your problem of how to save a dying tree is fertilizer. Avoid over-spraying or sprinkling fertilizer on trees while using it. Test the soil first to ensure you are rescuing the tree and fixing the issue before assuming a sick or dying tree needs fertilizer.

It’s time to buy fertilizer once you understand the makeup of your soil. To reap the full benefits of the fertilizers, strictly follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Fertilizer is composed of three major nutrients (NPK):

  • Nitrogen (N): A plant with insufficient nitrogen will grow slowly, produce fewer fruits and vegetables, and its leaves may turn yellow-green. A tree that receives too much nitrogen will become preoccupied with growing leaves and neglect flower buds.
  • Phosphorus (P): Phosphorus helps plants use all of their nutrients effectively and directs them toward healthy growth. A tree that receives either too much or too little phosphorus will grow unevenly.
  • Potassium (K): Supports general growth and overall well-being. Potassium, commonly known as potash, helps a tree withstand disease and pests by bolstering the cell walls of its stems. Additionally, it aids a plant in surviving the extremes of summer and winter.

5 percent nitrogen, 10 percent phosphate, 5 percent potassium, and 80% filler would be found in a bag marked 5-10-5. See the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services A Homeowner’s Guide to Fertilizer for further information on fertilizer.

Typical Lawn and Garden Grades 

  • 5-10-5
  • 5-10-10
  • 10-10-10
  • 8-0-24
  • 6-6-18

If you are doubtful, speak with an arborist first. Your tree may not be dying from a lack of soil nutrition. Dehydration or other factors like bugs may also be at play.

Pruning is a skilled practice. Check out LawnStarter’s Pruning 101: Pruning 101: A Guide to Trimming Bushes, Hedges, and Shrubs for tips on proper pruning techniques if you’re new to pruning or even an experienced pro.

Always keep in mind the three D’s of pruning:

  • Dead
  • Dying 
  • Diseased

Knowing the type of tree and the illness is important since each requires a different sort of pruning, which should be modified as necessary. If a tree has visible sick regions, properly removing the affected areas could prolong the life of the tree.

To stop the issue from getting worse, be careful to remove the unhealthy branches. A branch that has a fungal illness and is carelessly thrown on the ground can infect your lawn. Unwanted branches should be cut off using sterile shears, knives, or a saw.


There are various ways to save a dying tree, but these five actions serve as a good starting point. Sometimes there may be more to a tree’s demise than just a lack of nutrition or disease.

Another factor could be the predicted lifespan and the weather. The time has come for us to conserve the trees that have so often saved us. So go ahead and search your garden for any trees that you can rescue!


A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.

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