Cutting Off Dead Branches

Sometimes, it is hard to decide to remove dead wood from a tree, especially if you do not know how to identify it and unsure if pruning will help the tree or not. Cutting off dead branches is good in most cases, but you still need to know how to do it safely.

Dead branches do not necessarily mean a dead tree. However, if a branch is still connected to the tree, the plant might still try to use resources to revive that branch.

Dead branches are not helpful to the tree as they might prevent it from healing properly and, at the same time, allow pests and diseases to invade the tree. Think of the bark of a tree as your skin. If you're hurt, the open wound paves the way for pathogens to come through. That's exactly what happens when a tree's bark is exposed.

Eliminating dead branches gives the tree a new chance to rejuvenate itself, directs the nutrients to healthy branches and makes it less vulnerable to pests and diseases.

Why Do Trees Have Dead Branches In The First Place?

While scientists have done a great job identifying tree species and its biology, it is still mind-boggling why a tree would survive with one dead branch and another perfectly healthy one in almost the same place. However, most studies suggest that a branch dies due to the tree's reactions to direct resources to other parts - how selfless!

The assumption is based on the fact that most dead branches will fall under the inner canopy where the tree does not receive enough sunlight.

How Do You Tell If A Branch Has Died?

If you want to know if your branch is hibernating or dead, there's a simple method. Find the very end of the branch and snap a twig and observe the inner parts. A live tree branch will be hard to snap and probably stretchy or fibrous. Its insides will be succulent to semi-succulent and greenish. On the other hand, a dead branch will snap easily and have a dry brownish inner appearance.

Do Dead Tree Branches Point To An Underlying Disease?

Almost always, tree branches die due to natural causes and occur in the inner canopies. However, in some cases, pests like the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) invade a tree and feed on its vascular tissues, which blocks water movement in the tree.

An EAB-invaded tree will start to wilt from the top of the trees, or sometimes the branch dies from its tips inwards. The top-down dieback is usually a common indicator that your tree is dying or undergoing serious “health issues.” In a few instances, the branches in the inner canopies will die as a result of diseases.

Why Cutting Off Dead Branches Helps

As you can see, it is completely okay to cut dead branches off a tree. Whether you do it yourself or call a professional, the benefits are significant. Here's why you should always remove dead branches whenever you see one.

Based in Evanston, we offer tree care in Chicago and nearby. If you are not sure which branches you can safely prune or need an arborist inspection, contact us for a quote.

Safety Purposes

The thing with dead branches is that they eventually become dead weight and finally deadwood. Apart from adding unwanted weight to your tree, when they dry up, dead branches can come flying into your yard or even hit your windows. Dead branches are usually the first to go whenever a nasty storm occurs. They are also more likely to snap under the added weight of snow after a snowfall.

When you decide to cut off dead branches, you are helping your tree's structure and grow without too much stress. It is important to make sure your tree is healthy all year round.

However, dead branches can snap with a lot of force when someone tries to remove them, and they can even fall in the wrong direction, damaging anything that's in their way.

Promote Good Health Of Tree

Proper tree trimming (or pruning) is an effective way to maintain the health of your tree. Regular trimming and maintenance performed on a young tree will result in a sturdier and more healthy mature plant.


Are you familiar with bonsai trees? Do you love their beauty and well-defined shapes? Thanks to pruning, a tree can be made to look even more appealing simply by removing dead and unwanted branches. A tree's appearance is especially crucial if it neighbors your property. You want a tree that looks healthy and in great shape.

Aesthetics are also important when selling the property.  Of course, ugly dead branches would be a total turn off. If you prune the branches properly, they'll grow again in other areas and add a new fresh green look!  Healthy, mature trees can increase the value of your property as well.

Bonus tip: if you have a fruit tree somewhere, pruning it will help bring out bigger fruits!

Regular tree trimming can return vitality to your tree as it can also improve sun exposure throughout the tree.

Dead or dying branches shouldn't be the barrier to a good-looking tree! Regular tree service and pruning is a good way to keep your trees healthy and beautiful.


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