What Causes a Tree to Die? 

Considering that many trees we plant will outlive even our children, it seems like they’re indestructible. So, what causes a tree to die?

Gutierrez & Sons Tree Service and Landscaping, Gardena’s emergency tree service, explain more below.

what causes a tree to die

Trees Can Die When Environmental Stress Takes Its Toll

Adverse Soil Conditions and Environment

Many trees are highly resilient. However, they can only withstand environmental stress if they’re healthy and have access to all the nutrients they need. 

Is the soil full of clay and doesn’t drain well? The tree may drown or rot away. Other environmental conditions at play include rocky soil, drought conditions, and overexposure.

Insects, Sickness, and Natural Disasters Kill Trees Too

Tree Diseases  

Fungal infections like Dutch elm disease can kill a tree over a short period. However, many diseases will take their time and sap the tree’s strength. Fungal diseases are the most dangerous; they cause the tree to rot from the inside out. 

Insect Infestations

When you think about what causes a tree to die, do you think of a small creature? Probably not. But insect infestations are one of the worst threats to trees. 

If bugs lay their eggs in the bark or bore into it to cause significant damage, the tree can’t always heal.


When you think of tree killers, a lightning strike or gale-force wind uprooting a tree seems plausible. However, floods, snow, and other precipitation take their toll, and so do droughts.

Trees Die of Natural and Unnatural Causes

Old Age

There are many things that kill trees, but sometimes, it’s just the passage of time. Although trees live a lot longer than humans, they have a limited lifespan. At over 4,850 years old, Methuselah is living proof that trees are resilient, but not all species will live as long as this ancient pine tree.

When you take environmental factors into account, one to two hundred years is a ripe old age for any type of tree. At some stage, they will reach maturity and begin to decline. At that point, the tree continues to sprout, but it becomes less able to support new growth and foliage.

Human Intervention

Unfortunately, humans are still the biggest risk for trees on the planet today. Outside of forestry, where we cull trees to meet our needs for products worldwide, we also cause extensive damage to “ornamental trees.”

Much of the harm we do is due to a lack of knowledge or understanding. For example, we may prune a tree too much or with the incorrect technique, leaving its soft inner wood susceptible to disease. It’s also easy to inflict damage on a tree when neatening up the landscape around it or undertaking a construction project nearby.

Contact Us for Professional Advice and Tree Services!

Now that you have a better idea of what causes a tree to die, you should take the next step and know who to call in a tree emergency. Every second counts if you want to save that valued piece of flora. Don’t wait; call Gutierrez & Sons Tree Service and Landscaping at (310) 324-6593 today for service in Gardena, CA, and the surrounding areas.

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