Caring for Your Trees

The Four D's: An Easy Guide For Tree Removal

When should you remove a tree? Sometimes, the decision is not easy. You might contemplate for a few months before finally calling a tree removal company — but you don't want to put it off too long. The Four D's make it easier to know when a tree should be removed. Each "D" stands for a different condition that warrants tree removal.


If a tree is dead, as in none of its branches are developing leaves, then you should have it removed. Sometimes people wait a season with the thought that the tree might come back next year — but trees do not actually do this. If it appears dead this season, it is actually dead and won't come back to life. The wood of dead trees tends to get brittle quite quickly, so a dead tree is at an increased risk of falling down or losing a big branch. You'd be smart to remove it before any of this happens.


Trees get infections, too. Most are caused by fungi, but some are caused by bacteria. Minor disease symptoms, like spots on the leaves and a few dead twigs, are not very serious; they're not a reason to remove the tree. More serious symptoms — like multiple dead limbs, canker sores on the trunk, and bracket fungi growing from the roots — are far more concerning and usually indicate that a tree is about to die. To prevent the disease from spreading to neighboring trees, it's a good idea to have the tree removed before it actually dies.


If your tree is damaged, you have to use your own judgment and assess the extent of the damage. A few nicks on the trunk are one thing. But if a tree suffers major damage, like loss of its major limb or a deep gash in the trunk, you may want to have it removed. Trees often never recover from these injuries; they may barely stay alive for a few more years before finally dying, but why delay the inevitable?


A dangerous tree is one that poses a threat to either people or a structure. A tree that's growing into power lines is dangerous. One with a huge branch hanging over your roof is dangerous, too. In some cases, a tree care company may be able to trim back a dangerous tree and remove this risk, but this has to be done again and again to keep the tree safe. It's often easier to just remove the tree.

The Four D's are a great guide for tree removal. If you're still not sure whether your tree should be removed, call a local tree removal company and ask them to make an assessment.