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I think my tree is dead. How can I tell?

You can easily check to see if a young tree is alive by a flexibility or bark-scratch test. Branches that are alive should be pliable and bendable. If they snap when you bend them, they are dead. Check as many branches as possible in the crown (top) of the tree to see how many are alive. You can also perform a bark-scratch test using your fingernail or knife: gently scratch off a tiny section of the outer portion of bark. A healthy, live tree will reveal green underneath. If there is no green, then that branch or trunk is likely dead. 

My tree dropped all of its leaves shortly after planting. Did it die?

Probably not It’s not uncommon for some trees to drop their leaves after planting, because transplantation can be stressful. Some trees will drop their leaves to focus their energy elsewhere, like growing their root system. So, please continue to water your tree even if the leaves drop. If you’re still concerned, you can determine if the tree is still alive using our recommended methods in the above question.

Why does my tree have a bunch of shoots growing out from the base?

The shoots growing from the base of a tree are called “suckers” and are a sign of stress, most likely from the tree not getting enough water. If the trunk and crown (top) of the tree are still alive, prune back the suckers and make sure your tree is getting enough water.

Why are there a bunch of holes in the leaves of my tree? Will this kill my tree?

There are a number of insects on the front range that like to nibble on leaves. For healthy trees, holes in the leaves are likely not a cause for concern and are a sign of an ecosystem at work. CSU Extension provides information on many of the areas most common pests, including the  Japanese Beetle and Elm leaf beetle.  

There’s a wound on the trunk of the tree. What should I do?

Healthy trees should have the ability to compartmentalize most wounds, as long as they aren’t too severe. Do not wrap or paint the wound as this could create a warmer, moister environment that allows disease to flourish. Monitor the wound and allow the tree to recover on its own.