It’s not uncommon for tree branches to decay and die. Even if the trunk and the rest of the canopy is healthy, one or more branches may already be dead.
As a result, you might be wondering whether you should prune dead tree branches or simply leave them in place.
While tree branches can die for a variety of reasons, pruning them is almost always beneficial.
By removing dead tree branches, the tree will regrow new branches in their place. More specifically, though, pruning dead tree branches offers the following benefits when done correctly.
Pruning Reduces the Risk of Infection
Dead tree branches can often lead to infection.
Once a branch dies and begins to rot, the bark covering the branch will fall off. Aside from being an eyesore, barkless branches allow fungi and bacteria to enter the tree with greater ease.
As the infection-causing microbe begins to reproduce, it can spread to other parts of the tree, potentially killing it.
To protect trees from infection, you should prune dead or otherwise unhealthy tree branches, especially those with little or no protective bark.
Pruning Can Treat Existing Infections
Pruning dead tree branches can also treat existing infections.
If a branch is obviously dead – to the point where it’s decaying and crumbling – the tree may already be suffering from a bacterial or fungal infection. There are literally hundreds of bacterial and fungal infections to which trees are susceptible.
But depending on the particular type of infection, it may be localized, meaning pruning the affected branch or branches will help control it.
Pruning Removes Unstable Tree Branches That May Fall
Another reason to prune dead tree branches is to reduce the risk of bodily injury and property injury.
Dead tree branches generally won’t fall on their own – not without a little help from Mother Nature, at least. When a severe storm rolls in, the wind and rain can snap dead tree branches. And if the branch overhangs your property, it could cause damage or bodily injury.
To prevent this from happening, you should prune all dead tree branches.
Pruning Discourages Pests
Dead tree branches are a source of food for many pests, including the all-too-destructive termites.
If a branch dies and you don’t prune it, termites or other pests may feast on it. You can keep pests at bay, however, by pruning dead branches.
As soon as you spot a dead branch, prune it to discourage pests.
The Woodsman Company offers tree planting, tree pruning and shrub trimming, tree removal and stump grinding as well as a tree wellness program.
If we can help with any of your tree care needs give us a call at 512-846-2535 or 512-940-0799 or
Tristan Stewart says
My yard is full of trees that are starting to look overgrown and wild. My partner and I want to make sure that our home has nice curb appeal, so it’s time to try to prune the trees. It’s nice that you talked about dead limbs being likely to fall off, so they need to be cut off from the tree.
Ken Partain says
Thanks for reading Tristan. Yes, clear out all the dead stuff and then see what you’ve got. It may not need to be pruned much more.