Trees like every living organism are prone to ill health. Tree problems could be due to pests, fungal infections, harsh weather conditions, man-made factors among others.

In urban settings, tree problems are prevalent as a result of human activities. Trees in cities have a shorter lifespan than those found in rural environments and forests. The contrast in the lifespan of trees in urban areas is due to human activities and environmental factors. Stressed and weak trees are more vulnerable to secondary attacks from insects, pests, and diseases.

Trees in urban regions are prone to –

  • Insufficient space for proper root growth
  • Compact soil due to traffic on the soil around the tree
  • Nutrients deficiency due to taking away fallen leaves that could decompose and give nutrients back to the soil.
  • Damage from lawnmowers
  • Over pruning

Early detection of tree problems and prompt treatment can greatly increase the lifespan of trees. Tree problems can be due to environmental factors, disease, poor tree care service, and human factors.

Environmental factors

Tree problems as a result of the environment and harsh weather conditions include –

Water is very important for trees to grow. Drought can lead to stunted tree growth and eventually lead to tree death. The effects of droughts are not always immediate. Signs might not appear for as long as a year after the tree has been damaged. Signs of drought include-

  • Yellowing, wilting, and drooping of leaves
  • The premature dropping of leaves or needle
  • Canopy thinning
  • Leaves necrosis
  • Deep and pronounced cracks in barks
  • Tree death

The effect of drought can be minimized by –

  • Planting of drought-resistant species in areas prone to drought.
  • Regular watering. New trees require deep watering every week until their roots are established. It takes about two years for tree roots to be fully established. Mature trees need weekly watering during dry summer months and towards the end of fall.
  • Mulching is the application of materials preferably organic to protect, insulate, or retain the moisture in the soil.
  • Pruning of cracked, weakened, or dead tree limbs. Pruning prevents insect infestation and infections of damaged parts. When disease branches are pruned, it prevents the spread to other parts of the tree and surrounding plants. Not more than 25% of the total tree mass should be pruned at once. For safe pruning and if you think more than 25% of the tree needs to be pruned call a certified arborist.

Winter burn.

Winter burn predominantly affects evergreens and causes the color change. Winter burn is due to freezing temperatures, wind, and dry soil.

The effect of winter can be minimized by –

  • Deeply watering your tree every week from the end of fall all through to early winter before the soil freezes.
  • Mulching of root zone area to retain moisture.

Fungal infections

Tree problems could also be due to fungal tree diseases. Stressed trees with openings and cracked barks are more vulnerable to fungal infections. Fungal infection is best controlled when detected early as widespread infection often leads to tree removal. A fungal infection could be internal or external.

Internal fungal infection

Mushroom growth on trees points to tree decay. Do not apply herbicides as these would only accelerate tree death.


  • Prune and destroy affected foliage, limbs, and branches.
  • Ensure your tree is properly pruned when healthy as a poorly pruned tree is more vulnerable to fungal diseases and insect infestations.

External fungal diseases

External fungal diseases are mainly spread by wind, insects, and birds. They include leaf rust, leaf spot, powdery mildew, and many others.


  • Prune infected tree parts.
  • Fungicides should be applied to the infected, area, and surrounding plants to prevent the spread of the disease.

Not much can be done to treat fungal diseases. It is important to involve an arborist to increase the chances of survival and for a proper treatment plan.

Other common tree problems include –

Leaning tree.

Trees that naturally lean over time are not a reason for concern, trees that lean suddenly are. Trees lean due to light, wind, or soil composition. Leaning trees could be a sign of structural problems and may be dangerous. A leaning tree becomes a concern if-

  • It’s sudden. When an upright tree suddenly begins to lean call an arborist.
  • The leaning gets worse or changes.
  • The tree begins leaning after a storm.
  • There are cracked soil around the tree
  • The tree is close to utility lines
  • The tree is leaning towards a building or along a walkway.


  • Pruning of young trees could prevent the leaning of trees.
  • This should be done by a professional arborist.

Exposed tree roots

Exposed roots are easily noticed but oftentimes not seen as dangerous. Exposed roots are trip hazards, make mowing difficult, and are also hazardous to the trees themselves.  When roots are exposed, they are scalded by the sun, trampled by foot, can be cut by lawnmowers, and have difficulty in retaining moisture. Roots became exposed as a result of erosion or insufficient space. When running water washes off the surface of the soil, roots gradually become exposed. Also, when the roots don’t have enough space to grow as a result of utilities or structures, they may start growing closer to the surface. Need stump grinding and removal in Jacksonville? Contact Leinad Tree Service Today!


  • Call a professional arborist for a lasting solution. The best approach is dependent on the cause of root exposure.

Compact soil

The soil surrounding a tree contains the roots that draw water for the tree. If this area is compacted, the root suffocates and die. The tree becomes weakened and could eventually die. In urban areas, the soil is more compact due to foot traffic and construction. Signs of the compact soil are stunted growth, presence of secondary invaders such as diseases and insects, barren land under the tree canopy, and an overall decline in tree health.

Trees compromised due to soil compaction have a higher risk of falling after a storm as their roots cannot firmly anchor them to the ground.


  • Compact soil can be fixed by aeration.
  • To avoid soil compaction, don’t park vehicles under trees. Don’t store heavy equipment under trees. Reduce traffic under tree foliage.

Insect infestation

Insects could affect leaves and barks or could bore into the tree. Insects that affect leaves and barks are more easily controlled than boring insects.


  • For insect infestation on leaves and barks, apply insecticides or to infected areas.
  • For boring insects, prune off affected branches. Do not apply insecticides.
  • Call an arborist for evaluation and to determine the best treatment plan.

Improper trimming and pruning

When trimming and pruning it is very important to avoid leaving stubs as they are vulnerable to insect infestation and diseases. Don’t use dirty or rusted pruning shears as they can spread fungal infections.

If a young tree is not properly pruned, it may develop week branch unions that could split apart when mature.


  • Prune young trees properly
  • Prune branches at the collar. Do not leave stubs.
  • Ensure you trim and prune properly.

Most tree problems can be avoided by proper tree care and the use of a professional tree arborist. Immediately you notice any tree abnormality, call a professional