Are Dead Branches Bad for a Tree?

Are Dead Branches Bad for a Tree?

Dead branches are one of the first signs that a tree hasn’t been pruned or trimmed in a while. 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. It is a necessary step for any gardener to cut off dead branches to keep their trees in the best condition possible.

Are Dead Branches Bad for a Tree?

Here’s what you should know about, the effects dead branches could have on an otherwise healthy tree and why trees develop dead branches in the first place.

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 or twigs 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, other potential dangers can be associated with the presence of dead branches.

Branches can crack or break and be a 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 make this their home. 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

Once a tree is in your yard, it becomes your responsibility to trim dead growth that nature would normally take care of on its own. Dead branches can hurt a developing tree and cause stunted growth. Energy will be directed away from new living branches during the growing season, and the plant can’t grow the way it’s supposed to. It is not uncommon to see trees experience a healthy growth spurt after pruning a tree and trimming dead branches.

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.

It is ideal to 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 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 diseases around the base of the tree down to the root system.

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.

Contact us today for a free estimate!