Safe, Injury-Free Tree Maintenance: Tips for DIY Work

Welcome to my blog. My name is Kerry, and I love to do DIY work around the home. While painting high ceilings and putting in garden beds seems to be easy for me, I find climbing into a tree with a saw to trim branches very scary and potentially dangerous. Luckily, over the years, I have gotten past the fear and have found ways to service my trees safely and efficiently without risking grave injury to myself. Sometimes, I admit that I have to call in the pros, but I'll help you identify when that's a necessity as well. Take a look at these posts. I hope they move, entertain and inform you.

The Telltale Signs of Dead or Dying Tree Branches


Unlike a lot of smaller garden plants, mature trees often do pretty well if they're just left to their own devices. Their large root systems mean they're unlikely to need watering, and when they reach a certain size, they're tough enough to withstand a lot of what nature throws at them. However, it would be a mistake to assume trees are invincible.

The problem is that individual branches can begin to die off, while the rest of the tree is left healthy—at first, anyway. If they're left, they can damage the rest of the tree and lead to its eventual death as a whole, which is why it's important to spot them quickly.

Sometimes these branches are dying because of disease; other times, it's caused by damage. Whatever the reason, the branches should be pruned back so the tree can live on and regain its health. Here are some of the signs to look out for.

Patches without leaves

This is one of the most reliable ways a tree can indicate dead branches. If leaves are present on the rest of the tree but missing on a particular branch, it's almost certainly dead and should be removed immediately. This symptom sounds like it should be easy to spot, but it isn't always obvious, so it pays to look over the tree from time to time.

Lack of bark

Bark peeling away from a branch or completely missing in sections may be a sign that it's dead or dying. If the rest of the tree looks healthy and the bark is intact, it's almost certainly pointing to a dead part. Look out for this in conjunction with other signs to make certain there's no saving the branch, and have it removed so disease can't spread from it and so it won't sap energy from the healthy, main part of the tree.

Insect activity

Many insects like to eat dead wood, and they can be quite quick to move in once a branch dies. If you see unusual insect activity or the presence of creatures like woodlice on a specific branch, there's a good chance they're snacking on dead wood.

Dead leaves that haven't fallen

You may have spotted this already and not realised it was any kind of problem, but the death of a branch doesn't just stop its ability to grow new leaves. In autumn, when the leaves should be falling, this function won't happen either, so if you see a branch with dead leaves still hanging from it when the rest of the tree has dumped them all, it's probably dead.


10 July 2017