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I think I killed my tree, is it really dead?

Have you ever forgotten about a new tree you recently bought and then you walk outside and it looks VERY dead? Most people (myself included) assume if all the leaves are brown then it's dead. Now that isn't necessarily wrong, but you MIGHT be able to save the tree if you examine it a little further. I will be using myself and my magnolia tree as an example.


Meet my sad (maybe dead) tree.

Now when you see this tree you think, "yup the tree died, time to throw it out!" and you might be right. But let's not give up hope and investigate to see if this tree is still salvageable.


One test you should try is cutting back some of the bark to see if it is green or brown underneath the first layer. You can either grab a knife or peel back a small layer!


We tested a piece at the base of the branches to see if the trunk was receiving any water and if the trunk was viable. If you pull back the bark and it is green, the tree is still alive. If you pull back the bark and it is brown, the tree is dead. When we tested the trunk, the skin underneath the bark was still green so we know that it is still receiving water. Unfortunately, when we tested the branches they all seemed to be brown.

Notice the green skin underneath the bark.

Another way to test if your tree is alive is by using the snap test. Bend some of the branches to see if they snap right away or if they bend. If your branch snaps, that branch is dead. If the branch only bends, the branch is still alive. If many of the branches snap, you whole tree might be dead.


Since my tree has many dead branches, we will prune the tree to see if we can grow some new branches in its place and keep the tree alive. Disclaimer: if you evaluate your tree and it appears to still be alive, it may still die. There are a multitude of other variables such as pests, weather, or disease that might be harming your tree. Let us know if you have any questions about your tree, we would love to help!





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