3 Signs it’s Time to Cut Down Your Favorite Shade Tree


Trees are beneficial because they create oxygen, provide shade, produce fruits and flowers, allow animals use them for food and shelter, and other benefits. Therefore, trees normally are only cut down under particular circumstances such as when a tree is dead or dying, the possibility of falling trees and limbs causing severe damage to a house or other structures, roots eroding the foundation, a large tree leaning at an angle toward the building, the tree is planted too close to a power line, it is overcrowding other trees, or diseased trees being an eyesore and a threat to other trees.

A shade tree is a tree that is grown specifically for shade, being large trees with beautifully spreading canopies, longevity, and the ability to give privacy. In temperate countries, some popular ones are elms, oaks, ashes, maples, and lindens. In tropical countries, popular trees are the African tulip tree, some Erythrina species, and others.

Sometimes it becomes necessary to cut down a tree, and here are a few of the situations.

1. When it has Hypoxylon canker
Hypoxylon canker is a fungus that affects the tree’s growth negatively and can lead to the eventual death of that host tree. Multitude species affect a variety of hardwood shade trees. For instance, Hypoxylon atropunctatum is found on oaks, Hypoxylon tinctor affects sycamores, and Hypoxylon mammatum infests aspens.

Hypoxylon canker is a secondary disease. A primary factor such as physical damage or drought will usually cause the dying and decay of the tree first because it will cause the tree to be in stress and potentially start decaying. The pathogen infects the living tree when it is in stress, but it must be already dying or at least have branches that are dying. It will not infect the tree if it is healthy or already dead.

2. When it can be taken down safely
Most home or business owners don’t realize how dangerous it can be to those attempting to cut down a tree or to the nearby structures. There are definite methods to make it a safe procedure, and the best idea is to hire an experienced and professional arborist.

The arborist and his helpers will climb up into the tree, cut off the limbs one by one, and drop each to the ground. Once there is nothing left but the main trunk and perhaps just a few light-weight branches, they will cut the trunk into sections of approximately six or seven feet. The crew will start at the very top and drop each one down to the ground before they cut the next one. All this is done so that there is no chance that the tree will fall into the building. They will also clean up everything and haul it away.

3. What about the roots?
After a tree is cut down, a stump is left. Minnesota Tree Surgeons said, “The roots cannot continue to grow once a tree is cut down because of roots needing nutrients that are supplied by the leaves.” Therefore, the necessary fuel for growth is not there if the tree has no leaves to undergo photosynthesis, which is absorbing sunlight and then combining it with carbon dioxide and water to create carbohydrates and oxygen.

However, a tree can re-sprout after being cut down, and new growth can grow leaves that carry out the photosynthesis and give roots and sucker sprouts the needed fuel to continue to grow from the stump or from the roots. That can be controlled by spraying the new growth with a brush killer or the proper herbicide, or, better yet, treating the stump with the herbicide immediately after the tree is cut down to prevent sucker growth.