If It’s Brown; Take it Down (Tree Removal Rule)

For years on my radio show I’ve said that it’s nearly impossible for me to truly diagnose tree problems via a single picture sent to me via email or Facebook.

However, I can tell you with about 99.8% certainty, that when a tree is completely covered in brown leaves/rusty-brown pine needles, my philosophy of “If it’s Brown, Take it Down!” almost always applies.

Sadly, people usually wait too long to remove what to me is obviously a very dead tree.  When they do, that makes the tree even harder to take down or have felled and that removal ends up costing a lot more for a professional tree service to do the removal.

I once asked a neighbor with several dead pine trees why he hadn’t had them removed. He said he wanted to wait to see if they come back in the spring. When you live next door to a gardening expert, I say take his advice.  He didn’t not, and when he got the bid for removal it was easily almost double what the bid was a year earlier when the trees had not had internal rot.

I can also promise you that there’s not an arborist or garden advice giver, such as myself, that can bring dead back to life.  Once a tree has 100% brown leaves or needles, and they are clinging to the tree instead of falling naturally as they would in normal fall senescense, I promise it’s dead and needs to be removed immediately.

So, say it with me… “If It’s Brown, Take it Down!”

You don’t always need a tree doctor to come out and tell you if a tree is dead. While there are a few exceptions to the rule, if a tree’s leaves are 100 percent brown, or if a pine tree’s needles are 100 percent rust-colored, the tree is dead, and it needs to come down soon.

There are three reasons why you shouldn’t put off having dead trees removed. First, a dead tree could fall on its own or due to winds, so it is a safety threat to nearby houses, fences, garages, automobiles, etc. If an insurance company can prove you knew for some time that a tree was dead and didn’t have it removed, they may not pay an insurance claim for damages.

Second, a dead tree falling among other healthy trees can damage those trees, ripping off branches and gashing trunks.

And third, which we have already talked a bit about, is that it may actually cost more to have a dead tree cleared away later because removal becomes more intricate with decomposition.

In a tree’s early stages of death, it is solid enough for an expert to climb and remove it one section at a time. When it’s rotting, no one can safely climb the trunk, so the removal process requires more equipment, more workers, and costs more money.

So, if it’s brown, take it down….and please do so immediately.

How do you know if a tree is struggling to stay alive? Many trees are starting to shed leaves for the fall, as they normally would. Trees shedding yellowing leaves prematurely are likely having problems and could benefit from deep-root watering and feeding. I encourage you to do it on your own, but older trees need treatment by a professional. Be careful, though: price-gouging tree companies come out of the cracks this time of year.

Be sure you’re getting a good deal from a certified tree company. The cost of tree removal depends on the size of the tree and its ease of accessibility. Call at least three companies for bids.

Price-gougers will overcharge because they think you may be trapped. Uninsured companies will give you the cheapest bids because they don’t have much overhead. However, “rational” bids will never be the cheapest or the most expensive.

Any tree company that bids your project should provide proof of liability coverage and workman’s compensation insurance. If they can’t or won’t, don’t hire them. If something bad happens due to a fallen tree, it’ll all be on you and your insurance. Don’t let Murphy’s Law take part in your removal.T