4 Stressors That Are Killing Your Tree

As homeowners, we do our best to take care of our investment and the place we call home. But a lot of the times we don’t recognize the deadly situations that are hiding throughout our landscape, slowly killing our trees. The first step in fixing these problems is recognizing the stressors that create them.

Tree stressors are environmental or human inflicted situations that increase the tree’s susceptibility to attack and lead to decline in vigor; similar to how our immune system lowers when we don’t get much sleep, thus we end up catching a cold. These silent stressors take a toll on the tree year after year until the tree gets infected by a secondary invader or starts to see serious signs of dieback and overall health decline. At this point, the tree is on its last leg and unless you intervene, will most likely continue to decline until it finally succumbs to these fatal stressors and invaders.

It is important to be proactive and identify stressors early before they do significant damage to your trees and shrubs.  Tree stressors most likely present in your landscape right now include:

4. Construction5377196-THUMB

If you have had your house renovated, a driveway installed, or your underground plumbing repaired chances are your tree’s roots have felt the effects of this construction.  A tree’s root system can extend up to 3 times greater than the height of the tree. When you do any construction within this root zone you risk injuring your trees roots and inhibiting their ability to absorb, store, and transfer necessary water and nutrients for survival. It is important to create a tree preservation plan when you are preparing to start any construction that might interfere with your tree’s root zone.

Little gardener3. Extreme Weather

Our area has been experiencing some very cold and wet winters and well as dry and hot summers. This extreme weather leads to flooding and drought which both have adverse effects on the tree’s growth process. To combat drought you can make sure your tree gets enough water by following our watering tips. After flooding or extremely cold temperatures your trees may plant health care treatments to minimize long-term damage.

DIY Tree Treatments2. DIY Treatments

At every home improvement store, you will find an aisle of dangerous chemicals ready for you to buy and “cure” your tree with. Unfortunately, these chemicals often don’t solve the problem and can make matters worse. The majority of the time these chemicals are incorrectly applied by homeowners. When this occurs you risk poisoning your tree, killing surrounding plants and beneficial insects, human health complications from exposure, and poisoning your water supply.  This overload of unnecessary & incorrect chemicals puts undue stress on your trees and can lead to extreme decline.

Soil compaction1. Soil Compaction

Recent research shows that 80% of urban tree decline can be attributed to soil compaction. This is one of the biggest stressors hiding silently in your yard. In a tree’s natural habitat, forests, the top 6 inches of soil is 50% oxygen. However, average urban soil has only 10% which can lead to needless stress and early mortality for trees. This silent killer can be caused by frequent traffic (foot or equipment) and other ecological disturbances. This stressor can be fought by regular de-compaction processes such as aeration or vertical mulching.


Unfortunately, trees are not great about communicating their health to us which is why it takes an experienced eye to spot early signs of health issues. But ,

Canopy Protection Program Members rest assured our technicians are regularly on your property monitoring and treating the stressors affecting your trees and shrubs.

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Samantha Huff

Samantha Huff is the marketing coordinator at RTEC Treecare. She enjoys learning about the technical aspects of trees and the insects and diseases that prey on them. She hopes that these articles can help homeowners gain control of their tree and shrub maintenance by being aware of the signs and symptoms of unhealthy trees.

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