When a tree is very old and decayed and there is a risk of it falling, it's always good to have it removed from your property. This is for your safety and the protection of your car, house, and everything else in the area of the tree, as you never know when an old and decayed tree will actually fall over. However, in some cases you can actually have tree lopping services performed versus removing a tree, and the tree may grow healthy and strong again. Note how to tell the difference between a tree that needs removal and one that can be simply lopped or trimmed.

1. Trunk damage versus dead branches

If the damage to the tree involves the trunk so that there is splitting, cracking, or very visible seams up and down the truck, the tree probably needs to be removed. The trunk is what supports its weight and once the trunk is damaged, the tree is probably at risk for toppling over. Those cracks and seams are signs of very severe damage and potential falling.

On the other hand, you may note that the trunk seems fine but it simply has dead branches. If you have those branches removed then they may grow again and the tree will be fine. The branches may be dead because insects have burrowed into that area of the tree or the branch has been exposed to too much sunlight or is absorbing toxins from that side of the tree. Whatever the cause, if you don't see damage to the trunk, you might consider just removing the troublesome branches.

2. Dead branches on one side of a tree versus both sides

While a few dead branches don't necessarily mean the tree itself should be removed, note that if the dead branches are all on one side of a tree, and if there are many dead branches on that one side, the tree may be at risk for toppling. Having all dead branches on one side of a tree is often a sign that the tree has suffered root damage or trunk damage to that side and in turn, is very weak in that area and at risk for falling.

3. Root damage

If a tree seems unhealthy, you might have an arborist check its roots for damage. It may have root rot or a fungus growing around the roots. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may be able to treat the roots with different additives to make them stronger and then address the cause of the problem. Trimming off affected branches can then keep the tree in place and allow it to grow strong again. However, if the root damage is very extensive, the tree may need to be removed.

If you're unsure about the state of your tree, contact local tree lopping services for a second opinion.