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What To Do If Your Tree Is Not Leafing Out

Now that we are a few weeks into spring, many of us have had plenty of time to walk around the outside and prepare our properties for the long summer ahead. Lawns have been mowed, gardens have been planted, and yards have been given a good spring clean-up. The more time you spend in your yard, the more you start to notice any areas of concern. Your trees should always be a top priority. If you see that your tree is not leafing out properly, that’s a clear sign of a problem!

In Spring, many trees face formidable problems from insects and diseases that can weaken or destroy tree health, causing it to leaf out late, leaf out partially, or not leaf out at all. If your tree is not infected or infested, the reason for a late leaf-out could be a structural problem. Either way, it’s important to have your tree inspected by an ISA Certified Arborist if you notice it has not leafed out by now.

“This time of year, healthy deciduous trees should display a full crown of lush, green leaves,” explains Lou Giroud, President of Giroud Tree and Lawn and ISA Certified Arborist. “Evergreens should have new buds and vibrant color. The picture is significantly different for trees with insect or disease problems.”


When insects emerge in spring after a long, sleepy winter, they wake up hungry! The severity of an insect infestation can vary based on the type of tree and the kind of insect. If the pest has damaged your tree enough to prevent it from leafing out properly, it needs help fast!


Sick trees display clear warning signs, and late, partial or no leaf outs are loud alarms! There are many diseases that can affect your tree, and without consulting with an ISA Certified Arborist, it’s easy to confuse the symptoms. Also, a trained professional will know how to target and combat the disease without accidentally spreading it to other parts of the tree or to other trees in the area.

Structural Issues

Your tree might leaf out late for other reasons, such as a structural problem. There may be decay in the trunk or cavities, restricting water flow throughout the tree. Your tree may have girdled roots hidden beneath the ground, slowly strangling the base! There may be a crack in a large branch or leader that you’re not even aware of! The trained eye of a certified arborist will locate the source of the stress.

Other Signs of Trees in Distress

While you’re examining your trees, here are some other symptoms to look for that could indicate a problem:

  • Damaged Leaves: chewed, yellowing or discoloration.

  • Decay: Mushrooms or shelf fungi growing out of the root system or trunk of a tree, cavity or peeling bark.

  • Insects: check for activity on the leaves, branches, and trunk. Heavy hitters for spring are Aphids, Leaf Miners, Lacebugs and Soft Scales.

  • Excessive Deadwood: dead branches can be a serious safety hazard to people and property.

Early detection is the key to saving trees suffering from insect, disease, or structural problems, so don’t wait to schedule an inspection with an ISA Certified Arborist! He will inspect the trees, diagnose the problem and recommend the best course of action.

Compliments of Giroud Tree and Lawn

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