Dead branches are one of the first signs that a tree hasn’t been pruned or trimmed in a while. Yes, the accumulation of dead branches is a normal part of life for trees. However, while dead branches would fall off in nature, trees in your yard could use a little human help. Trimming dead branches off trees is a necessary step for any gardener who wants to keep their trees in the best condition.
Are Dead Branches Bad for a Tree?
Here’s what you should know about why trees develop dead branches, and exactly what effect dead branches could have on the tree.
Why Dead Branches Happen
Dead tree branches happen at the extremes of growth, where there is no longer room or flow for new life.
Almost all trees will develop dead or dying branches over time. This doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with the tree. Instead, it means that the extremes of it are dying off and the tree is making room for new growth and life.
As dead branches fall off, they create habitation for insects and plants in nature. Within the garden, dead branches can do the same thing, however, it’s not always desirable to have dead branches and wild bug colonies all over your lawn.
The Short Answer
Are dead branches potentially harmful to trees? The shortest answer is yes. The presence of too many dead branches can slow down the healthy development of a tree.
Although dead branches can inhibit new, long-term growth, there are other potential dangers that can be associated with the presence of dead branches.
Branches can crack or break and be a serious danger for anyone standing below. Dead branches can also get in the way of power lines, or become a fire hazard.
Once dead branches have dropped off the tree, they can even present a danger on the ground as well. Undesirable pests and critters – including rats and snakes – might choose to crawl into piles of dead branches on the ground.
Dead branches aren’t just undesirable for the tree, but they are also potentially dangerous for the gardener and their garden in many different ways.
Dead Branches versus New Growth
While nature would take care of the problem if the tree weren’t in your yard, once a tree is in your care, it becomes your responsibility to trim dead growth off the tree.
The first negative effect that dead branches can have on a developing tree is stunted growth. Dead branches will direct energy away from new life, and the plant can’t grow the way it’s supposed to. In fact, it is not uncommon to see trees experience a healthy growth spurt as soon as the dead branches have been trimmed.
Imagine that you just took off a very heavy jacket in the sun. That’s a relief, right? That’s what the tree feels like without dead growth dragging it down.
Dead Weight (for the Tree)
Dead branches are dead weight. Therefore, the presence of too many dead branches on your tree can drag it down – literally.
Plants need new growth to add to their strength, and also to make sure they can stand up against obstacles and weather. Healthy trees don’t need the added weight of dead branches.
Ideally, trim tree branches at least once or twice a year to make sure your tree gets the full benefit of emerging growth.
Dead Branches and Potential Diseases
Dead branches that collect on a tree are a potential hotbed for potential diseases that can affect the health of a tree. Add rain and decay to the mixture, and you increase the chances of mold development that could backfire into the air and trigger allergies.
Never leave dead branches to collect at the bottom of a tree. Whether the dead growth was trimmed or fell off naturally, make sure you clear away the space. Clearing dead branches will help eliminate the potential for bugs or disease around the base of the tree.
Additional Reading: When to Cut Down a Tree – Arbor Day Foundation
Tree Services of Omaha
Tree Services of Omaha, Nebraska is a full-service tree care provider that offers a wide range of arborist services including but not limited to: Tree Removal Services, Tree Trimming, Tree Pruning, Tree and shrubs Shaping, Stump Removal, Stump Grinding, Arborist Consultations, Systemic Tree Injections.
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