7 Signs for a Healthy Tree

You did your homework on how to plant them properly and the best things you can do to take care of them and help them grow. Even with the best of care, sometimes trees cannot survive. Here are the 7 key signs to look for to assess if your tree is healthy.  

Leaf Characteristics

Leaves on a tree are a good indicator of health. Leaves should be the right colour for the season, unless the tree leaves are naturally yellow. They should not be irregularly shaped or stunted. These signs show nutrient deficiency, damage by insects, watering problems and diseases.

Bare Patches

If the tree is evergreen, look out for sections without leaves all year-round. Otherwise, there is no need to worry about a deciduous tree until the leaves have appeared in the spring. Bare patches can be caused by; nutrients not reaching the branches, improper pruning or pesticide damage.

Check the Trunk

Bark on the trunk should not be loose or peeling, with the exception of a few species such as some birches and maples. No fungi should be growing out of the trunk or around on the ground. There should also be no large cracks or holes in the trunk.

Dead or Broken Branches

You should prune away dead and broken branches as soon as you notice them, as this is a

common way for insects and diseases to enter a tree, therefore these branches should be pruned as soon as you notice them. You can test to see if a branch is dead by scraping the branch with your finger nail. Healthy living branches will show green underneath. Living branches will also bend easily, dead branches will snap.


When leaves and stems begin to drop, the tree is stressed. Causes of stress are:

  • Lack of water
  • Over watering
  • Too much or too little sun
  • Over fertilised
  • Diseases/ infections

Evidence of Yearly Growth

The least obvious sign of a healthy tree is yearly growth. Trees grow every year, both their trunk and branches will continue to show new growth. Evidence of growth is found by checking the distance between this year’s buds and last year’s (shown by scars on the branch). Each species of tree growth varies, check to see what you should expect.

Signs of Disease and Insects

Insects and diseases are a key factor in poor tree health.

Warning signs you should look for:

  • Lack of fruit and flowers
  • Holes in bark, branches and leaves
  • Slow growth rate
  • Wilting
  • Bleeding sap