Checking Your Trees -- What to Look For

 By inspecting your trees periodically, you can prevent or reduce the severity of future disease, insect, and environmental problems. Before inspecting your trees, visit our tree pest and disease page so that you have up-to-date knowledge of what to look for.

 When you are inspecting your trees, be sure to examine them for the four characteristics of tree vigor: new leaves or buds, leaf size, twig growth, and a healthy crown.

A reduction in the extension of your trees new growing parts, such as buds or new leaves, is a good clue that the tree’s health has recently changed. Compare the growth of the shoots over the past three years and determine whether there is a reduction in the tree’s typical growth pattern.

Further signs of poor tree health are trunk decay, crown dieback, or both. These symptoms often indicate problems that began several years before. Loose bark or deformed growths, such as fungus are common signs of stem decay.

 Three easy to check things are:

 1.      The roots. Note their color: brown or black roots may signal problems. Dry soil conditions or the presence of toxic chemicals may result in brown roots, while  overly wet soil or the presence of root-rotting organisms may cause the roots to be black.

2.      The trunk and branches.  Cuts, scrapes and other wounds provide an entrance for pathogens and wood-rotting organisms. Wounds can be caused by many factors, including lawn mowers, children and rodents (like rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks) as well as a variety of other environmental and mechanical factors. Large defects may mean that the tree is hazardous.

3.      The position and appearance of abnormal leaves. Environmental or mechanical root stress may cause the leaves at the top of the tree to die prematurely.   A viral infection, insects, or exposure to herbicides may cause twisted or curled leaves. 


Any abnormalities found during your inspections, including insect activity, fungus, insect infestations and spotted, deformed, discolored, or dead leaves and twigs is a cue that you need to call us for further evaluation and action.

A Quick Tree Health Checklist

This list is to help you monitor and assess the condition of your trees. The following are just some of the visible signs that your tree is under stress.

  • Are the ends of the branches dead or without foliage?
  • Are the tops of your trees dead or without foliage?
  • Can you see pitch (sap) or a watery substance oozing from places on your tree?
  • Are there a lot of dead limbs in your tree?
  • Does the foliage look dull, yellowish, or have brown in some areas? The foliage should be a deep vivid color.
  • Does your tree have wilting or drooping leaves?
  • Are your tree's leaves being eaten by bugs?
  • Are the roots brown or black?

If you have noticed any of the above signs that you tree is under stress, give us a call for assistance in returning your tree to good health.

Contact Us

Cotta Tree Services has been serving the towns of Darien, CT; New Canaan, CT;  Stamford, CT and Norwalk CT since 1929.