3 Signs a Tree Should Be Cut Down

June 27, 2023

Cutting down a tree is never an easy decision, but sometimes it’s the only choice. Here are a few common

Trees in the Winston-Salem area provide numerous benefits to yards, neighborhoods, and cities. But, as wonderful as trees are, sometimes it’s necessary to remove a tree from your property. We know this can sometimes be a difficult and emotional decision, and you may be hesitant to make it even though the tree should be cut down. To help you make that decision, here are the three most common reasons a tree may need to be cut down:

  1. Tree Health Issues
  2. Bad Location
  3. Potentially Dangerous

Keep reading to find out exactly what to watch out for and when to call a tree service company to inspect and/or remove your tree.

1. The Tree is Dead or Dying

When a tree is dead or dying, it becomes more of a potential hazard every day. Dead trees are usually easy to recognize but it’s not always straightforward to know if a sick-looking tree should be removed. The following are some signs to look for that indicate your tree should probably be cut down.

A metallic-green emerald ash borer with black eyes sits lengthwise against a black background. An attack from this pest could eventually mean your tree should be cut down.Extensive Pest Damage

Severe pest damage can kill or severely compromise the integrity of a tree to the extent that the tree becomes hazardous and should be removed. Additionally, some trees that have been infested should be removed to help reduce the spread of the pests and associated damage to healthy trees. Here are a few things to look for:

  • Increased number of woodpeckers pecking at the tree
  • Holes bored into the tree trunk
  • Missing bark with visible galleries in the wood behind it (zig-zag patterns)
  • Stunted tree or leaf growth
  • A thin canopy, leafless branches, or bare spots in the canopy
  • Non-seasonal discoloration of leaves or needles

The emerald ash borer is an example of a pest causing extensive damage in the Winston-Salem area. This beetle is attacking and killing ash trees at an alarming rate, and these become brittle and hazardous. In fact, they become so dangerous that most tree care companies won’t send climbers up the trees to remove them, relying on a crane, lift, or bucket truck to remove these dangerous trees.

The Tree Diseased and Untreatable

While some tree illnesses can be prevented and treated, sometimes a tree succumbs to its illness and needs to be removed.

Likewise, you should seriously consider cutting down a diseased tree if removing it reduces the spread of the disease, as was the case of the Dutch elm tree. Due to the efforts taken to identify and remove the tree in North Carolina and elsewhere, instances of this fungal disease decreased dramatically. Though the strategy significantly reduced the tree’s prevalence as an ornamental street tree across the state, it’s an example of using removal to successfully control a disease outbreak.

2. The Tree is in a Bad Location

There are several scenarios that make a tree’s location “bad.” So what are they? Here are a few common examples:

The Tree is Growing Too Close to Other Trees

When trees grow close together, several issues can pop up.

Sometimes a smaller tree can’t grow because it’s being outcompeted for sunlight and nutrients by taller trees with more established root systems. In this case, it may be necessary to remove the struggling tree. If the tree can be removed with its roots intact, transplanting to another location where it can establish itself is an optimal solution.

Other times, several trees growing close to one another will compete for resources, causing all of them to struggle. In cases of overcrowding, you might have to make some hard decisions about which trees should be removed. But remember, removing a tree or two gives the remaining trees a chance to thrive.

An excavated plumbing pipe tightly packed with brown tree roots sits split open on the ground.

The Tree’s Roots Are Causing Problems

You want a tree to develop strong, deep roots, but if the roots begin causing underground issues, the tree might need to be removed.

Tree roots spread out as they grow and can become tangled with underground utility cables or even growing into plumbing, causing clogs and backing up sewage. These root issues can result in extensive damage requiring expensive fixes in addition to the cost of removing the tree.

While it may be too late if you already have an established tree, you can avoid these root problems. If you are planting new trees, call 811 at least three working days before beginning your project to identify any underground utilities. That way, you can plant your tree away from anything that could be damaged by tree roots. A little preparation can save you money and headache down the road!

Another issue occurs if roots grow into the foundation of your house or another structure. Small root tips can enter tiny cracks in a concrete foundation and continue to grow. As the roots increase in size, they can crack your foundation further, causing severe (and expensive!) structural damage over time.

Trees are Encroaching on Powerlines

Depending on the nature of the encroachment, trees threatening contact with power lines can be handled in different ways. Some situations will only require pruning the tree to make it safe, while removal is the best option in other cases.

If it’s determined that removing a tree near powerlines is necessary, a professional crew will use the appropriate equipment – cranes, bucket trucks, robotic grapple saws – to do the job safely and efficiently. Since they have the training and credentials to take on these jobs, let them!

Working near power lines is extremely dangerous, and you should never take on trimming or cutting down a tree near a powerline as a DIY project. Accidents involving powerlines can cause fires and electrocutions that can result in severe injury or death. Just because the job looks safe doesn’t mean it is.

A blue and white Godspeed Tree Service bucket truck is parked and steadied as the operator works to remove a large fallen tree with exposed roots that has fallen on a residential carport on a clear day with a blue sky in the background.

3. The Tree is Potentially Dangerous

There are a few situations that can make a tree hazardous. These usually involve the potential for injury and property damage. Here are a few examples:

Trees Blocking Sightlines

While a blocked sightline can often be remediated by pruning, sometimes removal is a better option. A large tree trunk near a road, sidewalk, or driveway creates a hazard for pedestrians and motorists. This type of hazard should be remediated as quickly as possible to avoid the potential for severe accidents, injuries, and personal liability.

Healthy Looking Hazards

Sometimes a tree can be hazardous without showing a clear indication it’s in poor health and likely to fail. For example, a tree with root rot may suddenly begin leaning, potentially falling on your house, garage, or other structure on your property. Similarly, a tree growing in poor soil due to erosion or flooding could fall in high winds or heavy snow. Remember, just because a tree looks safe doesn’t mean it is!

Fortunately, you can avoid damage, injury, and the need for emergency removal service by having potentially sick and hazardous trees assessed by a tree service professional before they become an issue.

Wondering if Your Tree Should Be Cut Down?

If you have a tree that you think might need to be removed, even if you aren’t quite sure, contact Godspeed Tree Service in Winston-Salem for a free tree assessment and tree removal quote, or call us at 336-399-8348. Let us use our years of experience to inspect and assess your trees for any potential health issues or other problems that could make them unsafe and to provide recommendations for the best course of action. If the best option is to cut down the tree, we’ll remove it quickly, safely, and at an affordable price.


Godspeed Tree Service

Owned and operated with high standards and consistent reliability by Bobby Gates, Godspeed Tree Service has earned the trust of the North Carolina Triad community over the course of more than 25 years in business. With a strong emphasis on safety, conscientious training, and accommodating the needs of each client, you can't go wrong by hiring Godspeed for any of your tree service needs! 

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