How To Deal With a Tree Dead on Top: 3 Tips

Is your tree dead on top? Strange as it seems, the issue is likely to be root stress. Read on as Starwood Tree Service, your expert tree removal contractor in Girard, OH, explains your next steps. 

What Causes Dying From the Top Down? 

Oddly enough, the signs aren’t always as clear as you might think — that is, until the tree is in severe distress. However, if you know something about tree care, you’ll recognize these causal factors.


The leaves will wilt and discolor, and the branches will die back. Your tree becomes more vulnerable to infection and pest infestation. 

Soil Imbalance

Healthy soil consists of a mixture of organic and inorganic matter, minerals, air, and water. Depending on the mix, it’ll be either alkaline or acidic in nature. When one component completely outweighs the others, the soil can become toxic. 

If you notice dieback, dig a small hole and see if you can find any worms or insects. If not, perform a soil check to see what the issue is. 


Is your tree dead on top due to insect infestation? Bugs multiply quickly and starve the tree of essential nutrients. The distressed tree produces more phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen to compensate, making it more appealing to the insects. 

How To Save the Tree

If the symptoms include those listed above, there’s much you can do to help your tree recover. Your best course of action is to call us to evaluate the plant. We’ll see if we’re dealing with an ailing or a dead tree and advise you accordingly. 

1. Drought Treatment

If rain is scarce, especially considering how do trees survive winter, water your trees at least once a week using a soaker system. This allows the moisture to seep in slowly, letting your trees have a good drink. Use enough water to drench the top 12 inches of soil.

Apply a layer of mulch about two to three inches thick around the base of the tree and extend it to the outer drip line. This protects the tree’s root system by regulating the soil temperature, smothering weeds, and retaining moisture. 

2. Dealing With a Soil Imbalance 

If you want to do things the best way, call a certified arborist. However, you can also buy a soil test kit and attempt to rectify imbalances yourself. Remember that you’re checking for pH imbalances and for mineral deficiencies. 

3. Pest Treatment

If you can identify the type of pest, you can use an insecticide or horticultural oil to kill them off. Consider cutting back heavily infested branches and disposing of them safely to help control the spread. 

Keep in mind that there are probably other factors at play here, so you’ll need to see what these are when the pests are under control.  

Can You Save the Tree? 

You can do so under many circumstances; it just depends on the extent of the damage. Your first step is to prune the dead wood and see why the issue came about. When you know that, you can treat it properly 

If you need to remove more than a third of the canopy or you can’t identify what caused the issue, give us a call. In such cases, removing too much foliage might do the tree more harm than good.  

Call Our Team for Advice

Seeing your tree dead on top can be disconcerting. However, there are many ways to remedy the issue, so don’t panic yet. The Starwood Tree Service team can assist with this issue and other things, like what causes a tree to die on one side. Call us at (330) 231-5022 to schedule a consultation today!

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