How to Diagnose Problems with Trees in the Landscape

Trees are valuable additions to the home landscape.  When problems arise with the health of a tree, it can be difficult to determine what is causing the issue.  Many factors can cause trees to become unhealthy and lose their aesthetic value or die. Some of those factors include:Trees

  • environmental stresses
  • site problems
  • animal injury
  • infectious diseases
  • insect infestations

Frequently more than one factor is involved.  A correct diagnosis of the problem(s) is the important first step in trying to manage an unhealthy tree.

Often insects or diseases are the first things we look to when trying to pinpoint why a tree is unhealthy.  However, in many cases, environmental stress and issues with the site (abiotic issues) are the primary cause of the problem, even when insects or disease-causing agents (biotic issues) are present.  Those biotic issues are more likely to become an issue because the tree is weakened by abiotic issues.

Identifying Tree Problems

decline in trees pamphletA thorough evaluation of the site, the growing conditions, and the tree itself is the first step to identifying the cause of the decline. 

Identifying Tree Problems is a comprehensive resource that outlines the steps used for examining unhealthy trees.

Identifying Tree ProblensUnderstanding Decline in Trees is a resource that provides tips on identifying, preventing, and reducing the factors that lead to tree decline. 

It outlines several potential causes of decline in trees, particularly those problems related to the planting site and environmental conditions.

Help for Newly Planted Trees

Trees planted within the last three years are more likely to see problems than established trees. 

Learn about the many factors that could contribute to the decline or death of a newly planted tree in this article: Decline of Newly Planted Trees

Resources for Common Tree Problems

Environmental Stresses

Insect Problems on Trees

Disease Problems on Trees

Common Issues with Conifers

More information about the insect pests and diseases that can impact trees can also be found in the Encyclopedia.  Those resources describe the insect or pathogen and management options.

Last reviewed:
April 2023