What to do if your tree is struggling

What to do if your tree is struggling

Last Edited: 31/03/2018

Mature and semi-mature trees add beauty to your outside space, as well as providing a valuable habitat for wildlife and birds. From time-to-time trees may stop thriving for different reasons. So, what do you do if your tree is struggling?

Identify that there’s a problem

Before you can tackle the problem, you’ll need to work out what’s causing it. Any or all of the following signs could indicate that your tree is struggling:

  • leaf loss during the spring or summer months
  • dry, brittle wood
  • cracks in the bark of the tree trunk

In addition, look out for fungal growth around the base of the trunk, for curling leaves, and insect activity.

Hydration issues

One very common cause of problems with mature and semi-mature trees is incorrect watering. 

If your tree has been planted in a location where the soil is heavy and inclined to become waterlogged, this could cause problems. If possible, fork the soil around the tree and add gravel or sand to improve the drainage. If this is not practical, it may be necessary to transplant the tree to a drier location.

Too little water will also cause problems for your tree. Large, mature trees are generally able to find moisture deep down in the soil, but younger trees may not have developed a root system that is extensive enough to do this. 

During very dry spells, be sure to water your trees every other day or so, ensuring that the soil within the radius of the tree canopy is well-soaked. This makes sure that the root spread receives good hydration.

Location, location, location

Different species of trees prefer different locations. Some trees do very well in exposed areas whereas others won’t survive high winds and severe winter weather. It may be necessary to move your tree, or transplant it, to a more suitable place.


Although mulching around the base of a tree can help the soil to retain moisture, over-use of mulch can starve the tree roots of oxygen and may also encourage the growth of fungus and mould, which could damage the tree. A thin layer of mulch is a good idea; just keep the depth to a couple of inches or less.


Mature trees don’t generally need much fertiliser once they’ve settled in situ. Resist the temptation to ‘feed’ your trees too much; an excess of fertiliser can actually be harmful.

In conclusion

There are many reasons why your trees could be struggling to thrive. For more guidance and advice on transplanting and general care, contact the experts at Todds Nursery. We offer free consultations to all of our clients, and an aftercare service that ensures any tree, hedge, or shrub you buy will live a long and healthy life.