Posted: September 14, 2023

Your trees are big assets on your property. They stand tall and strong and give you shade, protecting you from the sun’s rays.

They provide you with oxygen and great aesthetics. Trees do so much for you. It’s perfectly understandable that you’d want to give back to your trees by making sure they are healthy and thriving.

As you near fall and winter, and the leaves are falling off of your trees, you might be wondering how you can tell if your trees are in good shape. For instance, is your tree just dormant or are you looking at a dead or dying branch. Don’t fret; this is a great question. In fact, we get this inquiry a lot from homeowners.

How do you tell if branches are dead or dormant in the winter? Let’s look at when do trees go dormant and how you can tell the difference between a dormant tree and a troubled one to ensure you can call in a certified arborist if you see any worrisome signs.

When Do Trees Go Dormant In Massachusetts?

Dormancy is considered a restful time for trees. They go into an energy conservation period to prepare for that influx of growth come spring.

In Massachusetts, dormancy happens after the leaves fall off of the trees and continues until new growth emerges come springtime. Weather patterns and environmental stressors will impact the specific timing of dormancy and leaf drop. You’ll also notice some trees lose their leaves sooner than others, which proves that not all plants enter dormancy at the same exact time.

How To Tell If Your Tree is Dead Or Dormant

When you’re taking a look at your trees during this dormant time of the year, you might wonder how you can tell the difference between a healthy, dormant tree and one that is dying or in poor health.

There are actually a few easy checks you can perform that can help answer the question: Is my tree dead or dormant?

Perform A Scratch Test

A scratch test is a good place to start when seeking to answer the question: Is my tree dead or dormant?

If you use a fingernail or a small pocket knife to lightly scratch a small spot on one of the tree’s twigs, you should find that the layer under the bark is moist and greenish white in color. This means your tree is healthy and in dormancy.

But if you see a brittle, brown layer when you scratch the twig or if twigs are dry and snap easily when you bend them, that could mean your tree is in trouble.

You Can Also Visually Inspect Your Trees For…

In addition to a scratch test, you can also conduct some visual inspections to answer the question: Is my tree dead or dormant?

Your first check will be for small leaf buds. Believe it or not, your trees will even have buds in the winter months. That means your tree is recharging and ready to bloom in spring.

But if you notice there are no buds or that the buds you do find are dry, that may be a sign of a dead branch.

Looking at the tree trunk can also give you clues to determine whether the tree is dead or dormant.

Bark replaces itself as it grows, so upon tree inspection, you should see fresh bark growing in. But if your tree is shedding bark layers without replacing them, your tree could be in decline.

Why You Should Prune Trees When Dormant

Dormancy in Needham, Concord, Danvers, and Cape Cod is a great time for some tree care. Winter is, in fact, an ideal time for tree pruning.

Without all of the foliage, a certified arborist can actually see the tree’s structure and make more informed trimming decisions. What’s more, pruning wounds are less subject to pest or disease spread and heal faster at this time of the year.

At Hartney Greymont, we have local arborists throughout Massachusetts located in Needham, Concord, Danvers, Cape Cod, and the surrounding areas.

Contact Your Local Certified Arborist For All Of Your Tree Care Needs.

Hartney (19)
Hartney (19)

Get In Touch With Us!

We pride ourselves at Hartney Greymont on providing prompt, professional, and personalized service from certified arborists that live, work and engage in your community. Contact one of our Hartney Greymont specialists for your residential and commercial needs.

Let's Find What
You're Looking For!