What Causes a Tree to Die: 5 Factors to Consider 

Trees are remarkably resilient. They can withstand many stressors, from extreme heat and drought to air pollution, poor soil conditions, and inadequate water. Although all trees eventually die, with some living for hundreds of years, many die much sooner.

Here, Tree Workers of Phoenix, the leaders in certified arborist services in Phoenix, AZ, explain what causes a tree to die and how you can help protect the trees on your property from premature death. 

The Most Common Reasons  Trees Die 

1. Time 

All trees eventually lose the ability to support themselves. It may take decades, but as the tree loses leaves and branches that support nutrition and hydration, it stops growing and eventually dies. Homeowners cannot stop the inevitable aging process, but they can keep trees healthy longer with by ensuring they get plenty of water, fertilizer, and professional care.

2. Soil Compaction 

When vehicles and pedestrians compact the soil around tree trunks, the dense soil can severely limit root growth and expose the tree roots and leave them vulnerable to damage. The tree develops a shallow root system because water, nutrients, and oxygen don’t reach the  the roots. The result is a nutrient deficiency that ultimately leads to a sick tree that is in danger of dying. 

3. Tree Disease

Infectious diseases can quickly kill trees before homeowners realize there’s a problem. Fungal diseases like root rot often enter trees via wounds on the bark but can also infect the leaves and roots. In many cases, pests spread the deadly fungi from one tree to another, often attacking trees that already show signs of stress. 

Careful pruning, pest management, and fungicide application may slow or stop the progression of fungal disease and save the tree. 

4. Environmental Conditions 

Sometimes, what causes a tree to die isn’t within the tree itself but rather the effects of the environmental conditions. This might mean you chose the wrong tree species for the space. Or, a sick tree could be the result of poor site planning, not caring for it properly after planting, not preparing the soil correctly, or inadequate drainage. 

Choosing the right trees for the environment and following proper care practices can help them thrive and prevent problems that cause early death.

5. Catastrophic Events 

Catastrophic events like wind storms and lightning strikes are unpredictable and not always preventable. Damage from a weather event or other unexpected occurrence can kill a tree, or create conditions where insects, disease, or rot will eventually kill it. If a tree sustains damage, have a professional arborist inspect it and decide whether to remove it or attempt to save it. 

Call Tree Workers of Phoenix With Questions About Tree Care 

If you have additional questions about what causes a tree to die or have concerns about a tree on your property, call the certified arborists of Tree Workers of Phoenix for help. We can identify problems like fungal diseases or pest infestations (like Palo Verde root borers) and recommend solutions. Reach us at (602) 320-2797 and keep your Phoenix, AZ trees safe and healthy.  


Tree Workers of Phoenix has been in business since 1994 and is a member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and International Society of
Arboriculture (ISA).


18402 N. 19th Ave. #115

Phoenix, AZ 85023

Phone: 602-320-2797

Email : rickthetreeexpert@gmail.com

Hours of Operation :

Monday - Sunday : 9:00am-5:00pm


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