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5 Warning Signs of Tree Failure

The trees in your compound pose a risk to your property, your family, and even your neighbors if they fail. It is therefore important to make sure that there are no failing trees in your vicinity, and the following are five warning signs that you should pay close attention to, so you can avoid costly perils.


These are spots on a tree where both the bark and cambium are dead, resulting in no annual growth and introducing a weak point. They can be caused by weed whackers, insects, lawnmowers, lightning strikes, fungal infections, or even vandalism. Because there isn’t sufficient wood in these spots to support the weight of the tree as it grows, this predisposes it to failure.

You can seek help from tree service personnel to help you know if the canker is a potential risk. If the canker covers more than 40% of the tree, it is in greater danger of failing and so it will need to be removed.

Bark Shed or Sawdust

Sawdust appearing suddenly around your tree could be the sign of a pest infestation. Shedding bark near the ground level could also be a sign of wood-boring pests that live inside trees and feed on them, killing the tree slowly.

If one tree in your compound is discovered to have pests, there is a good chance that other trees in your compound might be infested.

Get a professional arborist or tree services to help you with the next steps which can range from removing the trees to applying pesticide if the damage is not too far gone.


Cavities in your tree can be smaller ones used by birds and wildlife to nest, or large ones within the structure of the tree. Big cavities may be the result of previous limb failure or even an old pruning accident.

Cavities are often accompanied by decay in the surrounding wood, making the tree structurally unsafe. They can also be indicated by swelling in the trunks and branches of the tree, and an expert will be able to tell you if the tree needs to be removed or if it can stay without causing reasonable risk.

Mushroom or Fungus

Most mushrooms and fungi are harmful to trees, and they often appear when the tree is decaying from within. If you start to see them on or around a tree, you need to have them internally evaluated by a qualified tree service individual.

If the tree is found to have 40% or more decay, it is deemed likely to fail and should be removed. If the infection occurs on a precarious limb of the tree, then the tree may be saved by cutting off the infected branch so it does not spread. Unless it’s a palm tree, the tree can contain decay and recover from it if it is not too widespread.

Roots or Soil Lifting

If you notice that the soil around a tree’s roots lifting, this is an indication that the tree is not adequately anchored to the ground. It may also be a sign of crown rot which is a fungal infection, in which case the tree will have to be removed before it fails. If the tree starts to lean, this is a sign that immediate action needs to be taken.

You may also notice roots wrapped around the base of your tree. These roots can choke a tree over time, leading to its failure in the future. During a wind storm, a tree with roots girdling is very likely to crack at the point where the roots touch the tree.

Other signs to watch for include a tree producing less or smaller leaves than it normally does, or a limb producing few, small leaves, most of which are dry and brittle. This could indicate that the limb in question is dead, and it is only a matter of time before it fails. Canopy issues in your tree should be solved as soon as they appear to avoid the danger of falling branches.

Tree failure, in part or in whole, can cause personal injury, property damage, blocking of roads, and damage to utilities like power lines. It is therefore wise to look after the trees in your vicinity and get a tree service professional’s help in dealing with them before disaster strikes.

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