Crown Dieback—What It Is and What You Need to Know About It

Posted on: 17 March 2020

If you're lucky enough to have old, established trees in your yard, you undoubtedly enjoy the shade on a hot summer afternoon, the protection from the wind, and the aesthetic appeal. However, it's important to keep in mind that when you have large, mature trees in your yard, it can be difficult to notice one of the first signs that the tree is in decline: crown dieback.

What Is Crown Dieback?

Crown dieback is a condition in which the leaves and the branches on the very top of the tree — an area otherwise known as the crown — is dying back. In most cases, it's impossible to see the tops of trees when standing on the ground in the average-sized yard, especially on deciduous trees when during their foliage season — the season when pests and pathogens that cause crown dieback are most active.

How Can You Check if Your Tree Has Crown Dieback?

One way to tell if your tree has crown dieback is to visually inspect it from a vantage point on your property that's high enough to allow you to get a clear view of the top of the tree. For instance, if your home has a second or third story, you might be able to see the crowns of your mature trees from an upper story window. Standing on the roof is an option as well, but there's a safer way to do it: go about a block or so from your home and look at the tree from a distance. 

What Causes Crown Dieback?

Crown dieback can be caused by a variety of pests, pathogens, and growing conditions. Fungal disease is a major culprit, with infestations of aphids and certain types of beetles playing a significant role as well. Environmental conditions are a factor as well. For instance, if the ground in the tree's root zone has become impacted to the extent that the roots are struggling to obtain nutrients to supply to the tree, the crown would be the first part affected in this scenario.

Can Crown Dieback Be Cured?

The good news is is that crown dieback is often the first symptom of a problem and can therefore often be remedied. For instance, when the cause is an impacted root system, a skilled arborist can use aeration techniques to allow the roots to take up nutrients again. When insects are the culprit, arborists can quickly implement control strategies to nip the problem in the bud.

Your local arborist will be able to determine the cause of crown dieback and recommend an appropriate treatment. Contact services like Phoenix Tree Service to learn more.