How to Know When to Remove a Tree

Doug Bedford February 26, 2021

Trees bring our homes to life with beauty and can provide a sense of security and privacy. However, if a tree is sick or damaged, it can begin to cause more harm than good! You may wonder how to know when to remove a tree, versus having it treated or trimmed. When a tree could potentially cause damage to your home or family, it’s important to seek out a trained professional to help solve the problem. Let’s take a look at a few reasons your tree should be removed!

Signs of Illness

Sick trees that are left untreated can cause extensive damage to your property, injure people, take down power lines, and so much more. That’s why it’s important to check your trees for signs of illness on a regular basis. Some signs to keep an eye out for include:

  • Excessive leaf drop out of season
  • Leaf discoloration
  • Weak, rotting branches
  • Chunks missing from the trunk
  • Peeling bark (in species where this is not the norm)

In some cases, you may be in the clear and have your tree treated and cured. However, if the tree is too far gone, you should have it removed before it leads to more costly problems. A sick tree can spread the disease to surrounding trees and wreak havoc on your foliage!

Trunk Rot and Fungus Growth

If you notice fungi growing on your tree, it could be a sign of internal rotting. Mushrooms growing under your tree aren’t necessarily an issue, but when the fungus is on the trunk, you might need to take further measures, since this is a sign your tree is unhealthy. If the diseased tree is left untreated, it could get weak and develop root rot, foliar, wilt, or canker disease. Trees with these or other diseases should be removed, as they could fall and damage your home or other property. 

Invasive Roots

Trees have both vertical and horizontal roots. Horizontal roots can become destructive if they begin to grow into other features of your property. Invasive roots can cause a multitude of costly problems, including: 

  • Damage to your landscape, such as gardens and other trees
  • Broken pipes and sewage lines
  • Damage to the foundation of your home
  • Damage to sidewalks, driveways, or walking paths
  • Tripping accidents

If the roots can not be cut without compromising the health of your tree, you should have the tree removed to avoid any potential damage. 

Overhanging Branches 

Trees with overhanging branches can eventually grow into power lines, which can cause major problems. Branches may also become too heavy and fall onto homes, vehicles, or, in truly awful cases, people. You should never attempt to trim branches that are touching power lines on your own. If you happen to touch the power line in the process, you could suffer an injury that might have otherwise been avoided.

How to Know When to Remove a Tree

Weather Damage

Storms and harsh winds can cause damage to trees, including broken or fallen branches and weakened roots. These can both cause major damage to the surrounding area. Water saturated soil can also result in the entire tree falling. In this case, it’s absolutely essential to have the tree removed to avoid further damage or potential road blockages or injury. 


The environment the tree is in will play a large role in your decision to have it removed or not. A tree growing on a ledge or near a body of water will typically have a shallow root system. If something happens to cause the land around the tree to wash away or become loose, the tree could fall. Additionally, if you are having construction done on your home that requires the removal of some trees, and leaves others exposed to more sunlight or altered conditions, those trees could die and eventually fall. It is safer to have the tree removed by a professional early on, rather than risking the possibility of additional damage and costs down the road. 

Signs of Stress

Stress isn’t limited to the human species! A tree that is struggling to survive will show signs of stress, as well. If the upper branches of your tree are starting to die, you may notice new shoots at the base. This could indicate that your tree is trying to survive. In some cases, it may be possible to save the tree, but if not, you should have the tree removed before any decay spreads and causes your tree to fall.

How to Know When to Remove a Tree

Do you have a tree that might need removal? Contact Red’s Tree Service!

As the Memphis area’s professional tree service, Red’s Tree Service has been serving the community for over 40 years. Our certified, trained arborist can help diagnose and treat your trees while providing expert advice on trimming and removal. We want you to have everything you need to make the most informed decision for your trees!

If you have a tree you’ve been considering having treated or removed, our family-owned business would be happy to help. Contact us today to discuss your project and let’s get it done together!