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  • Writer's pictureRussell Fey

Beyond The Bark: How To Determine Tree Health

Tree bark

As a homeowner, you likely have a vested interest in the health and beauty of your landscape and property. Selecting trees, planting and pruning are all critical aspects of tree care and health, but what happens after foliage begins to take root and grow?

Tree Health: Going deeper than the bark

At first glance, it may look like your trees are thriving and healthy, but upon closer inspection, you may find that some issues need attention. When assessing tree health, knowing what to look for is a crucial part of ongoing care and maintenance that could add value to your property. A well-cared-for, healthy landscape adds value to your home and property, and taking these steps to more closely inspect your trees will save you both time and money as you seek to create a beautiful landscape. Read on to see just what you should be looking for:

  1. Inspect the central leader. Most trees should be pruned so that there is only one central leader, the vertical stem at the top of the tree's trunk. This leader is able to add both stability and strength to tree structure, creating an upright appearance. The existence of more than one central leader could cause a tree to split at some point, creating an open wound ripe for insect and disease infestation. Certain types of trees can exist and even thrive with multiple leaders. Peach, nectarine, plum, and cherry trees contain several trunks that work symbiotically to create lush foliage and delicious fruit for us to enjoy.

  2. Check for adequate yearly growth. Healthy trees will produce new annual growth on both trunks and branches. Check the distance between current year's buds and last year's (visible as scars on the branch). Growth rings on the trunk can indicate how much a tree has grown over the season, but the only way to reveal rings is to cut it down and inspect the inside of the trunk. In these cases where you wish to keep a tree growing, check for expansion by measuring the trunk's circumference each year at approximately the same time. A healthy tree is a growing tree.

  3. Deal with dead and broken branches. Dead and broken branches and foliage should be pruned as soon as they appear. This dead tissue is an open invitation for invasion by pests and diseases; if you don't feel qualified to prune your trees, call a professional arborist to assess your tree health and make recommendations for pruning and removing your trees.

  4. Notice and tend to bare patches. Evergreen trees such as spruce, pine, or hemlock can reveal bare patches devoid of needles, indicating a lack of nutrients and water. These bare patches can indicate infestation and disease common to these species.

  5. Assess trees for proper leaf shape, color, and size. Leaves are an indicator of tree health. Inspect tree leaves to ensure that they are the right size, color, and hue for the season. Deciduous trees will yield green leaves in the spring, with dynamic color changes in the fall. Evergreen trees contain dark green needles year-round. If you see anything other than those expected colors and hues throughout the year, call an arborist to determine if illness and disease are afoot.

Know your signs and symptoms

Warning signs of invaders and illness include a lack of flowers or fruit, distortion of growth patterns, holes in the bark, and oozing sap on evergreens. Maintaining a regular care schedule and periodically checking for signs of illness and disease will allow you to keep healthy, thriving trees all year round.

Sarasota: Helping You Care For Your Trees

Sarasota Tree Service professionals are certified, trained arborists who handle all aspects of tree maintenance, care, planting, and removal. We take pride in our quality work, yielding nearly four decades of satisfied customers and thousands of healthy, thriving trees. Let us help you assess your trees and build a healthy, thriving landscape that adds value to your property. Visit to book your appointment today!

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