Last Updated on February 22, 2022 by Grow with Bovees
If you’ve got a dead pine tree on your property, especially if it’s near your home or neighboring houses and buildings, then it may soon become a big problem.
Gusty winds, storms, and heavy snowstorms can bring down even perfectly healthy mature trees so if your pine tree is already dead or dying, then there is a greater chance it will fall over.
If you leave a tree to be blown over it could fall in any direction causing huge amounts of damage so we’re going to take a look at how to identify a pine tree that could soon become a danger and suggest what to do with it.
How to Tell if a Pine Tree is Dead
The first and most obvious signs that all is not well with your pine tree are needles turning brown, peeling bark, and needles being shed before the end of summer.
You may also find bits of pine bark and some dead branches on the ground or perhaps you begin to notice some excessive tree lean of the trunk that wasn’t there before.
These are all strong indications that the tree may be dying or could already be dead.
If you’re still not sure then you could try removing some of the outer bark to reveal the green cambium bark layer which should be a greenish color in a healthy tree. If it’s dry and brown then the tree may already be dead.
You can also try putting pressure on the lower branches which should spring back once you let go.
If they feel brittle or snap off very easily then it’s another sign the pine tree could be on its way to being dead already.
How Long Will a Dead Pine Tree Stand Before Falling?
There’s really no way to predict how soon a dead pine will take to come down exactly.
It could stay up straight for years or fall over in a matter of days, there’s just no way of telling for sure, but one thing’s for sure, if the wood is rotting, it’s much more likely to be taken out by strong winds or storms than a healthy specimen.
Is a Dead Conifer Dangerous?
A dead or dying pine tree can be extremely dangerous should it fall over, so if you think you may have one in your yard, then it’s time to do something about it.
An average-sized pine tree can weigh around 5,000-6,000 pounds so allowing a dead conifer to fall naturally could result in a lot of damage to property or even death.
You may think it will never happen to you, but strong winds during violent hailstorms down trees in a matter of seconds and can come out of nowhere, so you have no choice but to deal with the problem as soon as you can.
Beware of Dead Branches
Even before the main trunk falls, you will probably have random dead limbs that are likely to fall off at any time, causing serious injury to anyone unfortunate enough to be hit by one.
A falling dead branch from a 40-foot tall tree can easily kill someone or cause extensive damage to vehicles etc.
Be aware that if dying branches or the tree itself causes damage or injury to a neighbor or their property then you could find yourself liable.
If it was found that you knew about the dangers and did nothing about it, then you could also be pursued for damages.
What you Should do if you Think Your Pine Tree is Dead
The first thing you should do if you’re concerned that you may have an issue is to get professional help to assess the situation.
Call in an arborist or tree removal company to take a look and they can offer advice (which should be free) on what you should do and how quickly. If they think there is work to be done then you should ask them for a quote so that you can budget for the likely cost.
Once you have this information, if you believe the dead tree may cause damage to surrounding buildings or property then contact your home insurance company to let them know about the situation.
They will advise you on the next steps you need to take to deal with the hazard.
Can I Cut Down a Dead Pine Tree Myself?
Tempting as it may be to save some money, if a tree is tall and/or near buildings etc. then it should be left to a professional tree company to remove it safely and quickly.
However, if the whole tree is fairly small and well away from buildings and other trees then that may be something you can tackle yourself if you have enough experience.
Check out our article on types of tree felling cuts for some information on the best ways to bring down a tree safely by using standard cutting techniques.
The easiest way, of course, is to use a chainsaw but if you prefer to use older more traditional methods, then we have some advice on the best felling axes that will help you find the right tool for the job.
What Causes a Pine Tree to Die?
The pine is a beautiful tree that can live happily for many years, but as with many trees they will always be under attack from various sources such as:
Pine Bark Beetle Infestation
These are tiny insects that burrow into the outer layer of common pine trees like the Monterey and Ponderosa Pine and are attracted to trees that are under stress through drought or disease.
Pine bark beetles live and thrive under the bark where they cause extensive damage to trees. A whole stand of pine trees can very quickly be taken out by beetles laying eggs from tree to tree.
Look for lots of small holes that have been bored into the tree as a sign that pine beetles are present.
There are several diseases that can affect pine trees such as Pitch Canker, Pine Wilt, and Needle Blight.
Signs of an infected tree are often needles that will turn brown and if caught early, can sometimes be treated successfully, although once established, Pine Wilt will cause the tree to die and potentially fall.
Drought and Tree Damage
Although seldom the direct cause of tree death, a tree under stress through drought and damage to its bark, limbs, or tree roots is much more susceptible to attack from disease, insects, and fungus.
The best way to protect a tree from all of these problems is to keep it watered and free from injury wherever possible and ensure the pine tree root system is not damaged. Clear any plants and undergrowth from the soil underneath
What to do With Dead Pine Tree Wood
It’s a good idea not to let any wood go to waste and so many people will want to use as much as they can as pine firewood.
As the tree may have been in trouble for quite some time, it’s likely the wood will have dried out quite a lot already and so it will be ideal for cutting up into logs which can be split up using a splitting axe or maul to burn in a log burner, furnace or on a campfire.
Final Thoughts on When Should a Pine Tree be Cut Down
As we’ve discussed, a dead pine tree is a highly unstable tree and you should look at proper tree removal as soon as possible.
Try and keep your own pine trees watered during a prolonged drought and avoid damaging tree limbs or bark to keep out fungus, disease, and insects. If you have a tree wound that needs sealing, speak to a professional tree company to find out how to protect and manage the tree until it heals.
Keep an Eye on Your Trees
Above all, be on the lookout for any signs the tree is in distress such as dead limbs, brown pine needles, needle blight or problems with the roots, and take early action to avoid the tree falling over later on.