A Man Doing Diy Tree Health Check

DIY Tree Health Check in 5 Steps (+ When You Need a Pro)

Just like us, trees can get affected by diseases or environmental conditions. Take a closer look and you will find how a sick tree differs from a healthy one. But is it that simple? To make sure your trees remain healthy, you need to know what health looks like in our green friends.

Knowing how to keep a tree healthy involves monitoring the tree and using preventative treatments to fix any problem. But not all of us have in-depth knowledge about trees. So what are the signs your tree is healthy and will keep thriving?

This DIY tree health check guide will give you some simple steps to detect if your tree is healthy.

Note, however, that this article won’t discuss signs of sickness. It’s another topic for another time!

5 Steps of Tree Health Assessment 

The best part is, you do not need any specific instruments – or any specialised knowledge! – to check these parameters. All you will need is a measuring tape and a notebook for recording the observations for future reference.

1. Take a Close Look at the Leaves

A Man Holding A Tree Branch To Check If The Leaves Are Healthy

Just like our hands, palms and nails tell a story about our health, leaves are one of the most important health indicators of a tree. 

Green and plump leaves indicate an active kitchen that is producing good food for the tree. Unless winter is close, there should not be signs of brown and yellow on the leaves. 

If the leaves are wilting with or without yellow blotches on them, it can be a sign of water deficiency. This can be a sign of drought stress in trees with a shallow root system. A healthy tree will have a steady water uptake rate.

In addition, leaves should not be of irregular shape or stunted. Such signs can indicate insect damage, nutrient deficiency, or diseases. Signs of patterned leaf damage, like skeletonised leaves, can be due to pests munching on the leaves. 

2. Check for Growth

A healthy tree will generate new growth from the trunk and branches every season. This includes new leaves and branches. 

Each species has its unique growth rate. One way of checking for growth is to observe the position of the buds and compare them with the scars left behind by last year’s flowers.

Beyond that, the trunk of a healthy tree will increase its diameter and become thicker every year, especially for tall trees. You can measure the trunk diameter every year and check the growth rate.

3. Check the Trunk and Bark

Does your tree have a near-vertical branch at the top of the trunk? That is called the central leader and it adds stability to the tree structure. 

Most landscaping trees have one strong central leader with the other branches distributed around it. More than one central header can cause a split in the trunk, which can lead to infections. However, some fruit trees can thrive with multiple leaders.

The bark of the tree is its first line of defence against infections. So it only makes sense for trees to keep replacing their bark as they age. In healthy tree bark, the outer layer falls off and gets replaced by a new layer from the inside. That said, some species like birch and maples can have layers of bark peeling from their trunks. 

Make sure that the tree is not leaning to one side. If so, you need to stabilise it by using the right methods.

Also, check if the bark is free of vertical cracks or holes. There should be no fungal growth. On the trunk either. Mushrooms growing on the bark can be a sign of internal rot.

4. Check for Healthy Branches

A healthy tree will have multiple branches with a thick cover of leaves and will generate a full and lush look. The branches should be robust and resistant to bending and snapping. There should not be any dead or broken branches either. Broken branches can be an aftereffect of a thunderstorm or hurricane, but branches should not bend and fall on their own.

If the tree has dead or broken branches or the branches have developed at odd angles, it can be a health concern. It is best to call a professional tree pruning service to get rid of any branches that seem prone to breakage. 

5. Regular Flowering

A healthy tree produces regular flowers and fruits once it has reached the proper flowering age. It should sprout new leaves every spring after the winter rest period is over. A tree with a strong immune system should be resistant to pests and diseases and generate flowers and fruits at the right intervals.

Consider the jacaranda trees in Brisbane in the video below, for example. We love how they erupt with purple flowers every year, magically transforming the spaces around them.

6 Scenarios Where You Need a Pro Arborist

If there are definite signs that your trees are not in good health, contacting a certified arborist – consider them tree doctors – is a good idea. 

That way, you can get specialised guidance about all aspects of tree management including disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment by using the latest technologies.

The following points will help you decide when to take the help of an arborist.

  1. Periodic health checkups for your tree by a specialist are a good way to keep them healthy. The arborist can offer the best suggestions considering its health and the environment. Think of it like a routine check-up that we do (or should do) every now and then.
  2. Getting rid of tree pests is not easy. An arborist can help with the right ways to get rid of pests by using environmentally friendly means.
  3. Some trees grow big quickly and their rapidly developing root system can cause problems to structures. It is best to consult an arborist to take the right steps in such scenarios.
  4. Sometimes, it just isn’t possible to save a tree, no matter how much you love it. Removing a large tree from the grounds safely can be a challenge. An arborist can provide the best ideas about how this can be done safely.
  5. At times, checking the soil and scanning the root system of the tree can become essential to preserve its health. Arborists can perform tree root mapping by using non-invasive methods.
  6. Pruning a tree is essential for appearance as well as safety. Besides, storm-damaged trees need proper pruning to ensure safety. This should be done without damaging the tree and the process is best planned by an arborist.

FAQs: DIY Tree Health Check

How to check if a tree is healthy?

A healthy tree should have robust branches and leaves of the right shape and colour. Besides, the bark should be strong, without cracks or peel-offs.

How do you know if a tree is weak?

A tree is weak if there are holes, cracks, or bulges in the trunk. A leaning trunk or fungus growth on the trunk or around the roots are some other signs of weakness.

What is a tree assessment?

A tree assessment is performed by a certified arborist who evaluates the overall health of a tree. This can be conducted at various levels starting from a visual inspection to advanced assessments.

However, a basic assessment is DIY-able if you know the basics!