Arthur Ratliff Tree & Stump Removal

How To Tell If A Tree Is Dying

Much like people, trees rely on proper food and nutrients to thrive. Further, they can become sick due to malnutrition or a variety of diseases. When tree illnesses are left undetected, trees are at risk of dying. As a home or business owner, this should be of concern. Dying or dead trees become very weak over time and can eventually fall, causing damage to you or your neighbor’s property, or worse, severely injuring people nearby. 

Shouldn’t it be obvious when a tree is dead or ready to fall? The answer is no, not always. Dead trees can stand for several years before finally giving way. Not only are dead and dying trees a safety hazard, but they also can spread disease to other nearby trees and attract pests like termites and rodents. With all of this said, it’s in your best interest to keep an eye on your trees. The certified arborists at Arthur Ratliff Tree Care & Stump Removal are here to share some of the most common signs a tree is dying so you can know when to intervene. We offer tree services and tree removal in Columbia, MO, and can help you effectively deal with dying or dead trees on your property—contact us today!

Our Local Arborists Share Common Signs a Missouri Tree is Dying

When is it time for tree care or tree removal? The tree care experts at Arthur Ratliff Tree & Stump Removal can help you spot warning signs in a variety of local trees.

Oak Trees

There are many different white and red oak trees native to Missouri, including Pin Oaks, Bur Oaks and White Oaks. If you’re lucky enough to have oak trees on your property, you know how strikingly beautiful they are, especially once matured. While they may look strong and sturdy, they’re still vulnerable to disease, drought and extreme weather. One example is oak wilt, a systematic disease caused by fungus. While there is no cure for this disease, spreading can be prevented by a certified arborist.

Dying Oak Tree Symptoms

The leaves on a tree suffering from oak wilt may have a dull green appearance, eventually curling and turning tan in color. These symptoms will usually first be visible at the top of the tree. Additionally, if you scrape back some of the tree’s bark and a dark, brownish color is revealed, your tree may be infected. Healthy trees will have a green color underneath the bark.

Trees sick with oak wilt may have leaves that curl and turn tan in color.

Maple Trees

Maples are among the most common landscape trees in North America, known for their stunning fall foliage and sap used to make syrup. Common maple tree varieties in Missouri include the Silver Maple, Red Maple and Sugar Maple. These trees are prized for their seasonal beauty and often very beloved in yards, landscapes and neighborhoods, making it all the more important to take good care of them.

Maple Tree Diseases And How To Spot Them

Maple Wilt

Similar to oak wilt, maple wilt causes a tree’s leaves to look scorched and brown. It’s best to remove trees infected with maple wilt to prevent it from spreading to other trees, or, if caught early enough, an arborist can prune affected branches to give it a shot at survival. 


A fungal disease, sapstreak causes discoloration of a Sugar Maple tree’s wood. It is unfortunately fatal, making tree removal the best course of action. A tree infected with sapstreak will usually have a very sparse crown made up of unusually small leaves that otherwise look normal and healthy. The tree’s branches might begin dying back, and eventually the wood in the lower stem and root system will become stained.

A diseased tree may have a thinning crown made up of unusually small leaves.

Other Common Signs You Need Tree Services In Columbia, MO

While oak and maple trees are very common in mid-Missouri and have distinct diseases, other types of trees are very prevalent in our area, like elm trees and beautiful flowering dogwood trees. There are many types of tree diseases that often share common symptoms, including the following. 

  • Vertical cracks in a tree’s bark, or the inability for bark to grow back after falling off the trunk. 
  • An abundance of dead wood. You can identify dead wood by scraping back the outer layer of bark; if you reveal a brown, dry material underneath the initial layer of bark, it’s likely unhealthy.
  • The tree is leaning to one side, suddenly or gradually. This can be indicative of root damage or a result of strong winds. 
  • Fungal growth on the outside of the tree. This indicates internal rot.
Fungi on a tree is a sign of internal rot.

Have A Dying Or Dead Tree? Call The Certified Arborists At Ratliff Tree Care For Tree Services & Removal In Columbia, MO

When it comes to caring for your trees and determining if it’s time for tree removal, you can only trust certified arborists. The professionals at Arthur Ratliff Tree Care & Stump Removal are certified arborists, and can properly diagnose and treat tree diseases. Further, they know how to properly maintain, trim and prune trees, as well as how to safely remove them when necessary. 

To earn an ISA Certified Arborist credential, individuals must have at least three years of full-time work experience in arboriculture, as well as a degree in arboriculture, horticulture or landscape architecture, or forestry from a regionally accredited educational institute. The process includes an application and examination, ensuring the reliability and credibility of each certified professional.

Prevent Tree Disease & Removal With Our Tree Services In Columbia, MO

One of the best ways to prevent tree disease is to consult with a certified arborist like those at Arthur Ratliff Tree Care & Stump Removal. We’ll make sure your most prized trees are healthy and on a good pruning schedule. We also are acutely aware of poor tree care practices, like tree topping, which can accelerate tree decay. 

Sometimes tree diseases aren’t curable, and it’s best to proceed with safe removal to prevent hazards and the spread of disease. It’s crucial to enlist in the help of professionals to minimize risk and potential damage or harm. Our team specializes in tree removal in Columbia, MO for residential and commercial properties. 

Professional & Safe Tree Services

Even if you have the tools, you may not have the time to properly take care of your trees. Our team of certified arborists provide professional, safe and prompt service. We're happy to provide you with a free estimate to see if our services are a good fit for your property.
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