When looking at the majestic splendour of a large, old-growth tree, it can be easy to forget that even the sturdiest tree is as vulnerable to damage and disease as any living organism. Sometimes this damage leaves its mark, and many older trees are riddled with scars in the form of dead branches and patches of wood. When these masses of dead timber become extensive, deadwooding your tree is often the best option to save your tree's health -- not to mention your own.
What is deadwooding?
Put simply, deadwooding is the process of removing dead patches of wood from a tree's crown without damaging the living wood surrounding it. Patches of wood can die off on a living tree for various reasons; dead branches are commonly caused by storm damage, while fungal infections, insect damage and changing soil conditions can all cause isolated patches of living wood to die off and remain attached to the living tree.
As you can imagine, deadwooding a tree correctly takes serious skill, as accidental removal of living wood can cause serious damage to a tree and leave it vulnerable to infection. As such, deadwooding should only ever be carried out by a professional tree pruning and surgery service, who will possess the experience and knowledge required to safely and effectively deadwood your tree.
Why should I have my tree deadwooded?
One or two isolated patches of dead timber attached to a living tree generally don't pose a problem. However, more extensive accumulation of deadwood can pose a serious problem, and having it removed can convey numerous benefits to your afflicted tree:
Even if a patch of deadwood remains attached to a living tree, it is just as vulnerable to fungal growth and mould as a piece of fallen deadwood, and after a while a piece of deadwood will begin to rot. This fungal invasion can easily be passed on to the living wood of the rest of the tree, potentially leading to systemic infection that can weaken and even kill the oldest and sturdiest of trees.
Once a patch of wood on a living tree dies, it gradually begins to lose its structural strength, and when weakened sufficiently a piece of deadwood can fall from a tree without warning. Dead branches are particularly notorious for falling unexpectedly, and even a slight breeze can cause a large, dead branch to come crashing down, severely damaging anything (or anyone) left in its path. Prompt removal of deadwood in all its forms is the only way to minimise this threat.
Even if your deadwood-riddled tree is small and does not pose a physical threat to you or your property, you may wish to have it deadwooded simply to improve its appearance. Visible deadwood patches tend to become noticeably discoloured and can mar the appearance of an ornamental tree significantly.
Talk with a tree lopper if you're worried about the condition of your trees.