I'd like some help figuring out what the cause of my unhealthy tree is in addition to suggestions on how to fix it.

The tree is at least 3 years old; I've lived in the house 2 years and each year it looks the same. Its leaves are droopy, bark peeling, and the leaves never reach the top of the branches.

I've watered regularly, treated it with root stimulant, pruned dead branches, pruned leaves sprouting from the base of the trunk and nothing seems to work.

I appreciate any help!


Also, the tree gets full sun everyday in Dallas, Texas.

Full length Trunk Leaves Branches

2 Answers 2


This tree has major damage to the important tissue underneath the bark that transports nutrients to the branches above it. From the pictures it looks like at least 50 percent of the cirumference is damaged. The branches above the damage are only getting half or less of the nutrients they should.

This accounts for the dieback at the tips of the new growth and the sucker growth.

I would say that this tree is a write off and the damage is too severe to recover from without skillful grafting.

This type of damage can be caused by a poor planting procedure. Something as simple as letting the trunk of the tree bounce up and down on the tailgate of a pickup would do this.

Another cause could be really bad staking and tying. Although given the size of the dents in the trunk you would have to tie it with metal bands not the more common wire.


Look at the base of your tree. The grass is right on the bark and this tree was probably planted too deeply. The moisture of soil and or grass causes bacteria to thrive and they will compromise the vascular system to the point of killing the tree eventually. I am not a fan of staking trees unless bare root or mature massive failure. There are indications your tree was staked too long and that as well as the base of the trunk moisture would contribute to ruining the vascular system all around the circumference. I agree will Kevinsky, there won't be any help for this guy at all. Is this tree planted by the Home Owner Association's contractors? You should not replace with the same tree (Pin Oak?). See if there are alternates. Purchase during the fall and do not stake. Even if planted during the spring, with little foliage to catch any wind staking greatly slows the growth of roots and girth of your tree. Make sure there is a tree ring with NO GRASS no flowers, nada, at least 3' diameter. Only the roots should be under the soil, no mulch should touch the bark as well. When planting, the root ball should sit on undisturbed soil so that the tree won't sink. Let us know what you decide and we can guide you so that this doesn't happen again.

  • On many of your answers you mention mulch/vegetation in contact with the bark as being significant. This simply is not the case here: were excessive moisture around the bark an issue (probably not in Dallas), the damage would be localised to the damp area. In this case damage is present over quite some considerable length of the trunk, well away from the level of the grass. In general terms, woodland species are unlikely to have problems with high humidity on their trunks as they will have evolved to cope with accumulating, rotting leaf litter as well as climbing plants. Mar 25, 2017 at 21:28
  • The only concern I would have about mulch being in contact with a trunk, would be if the mulch was actively decomposing/contaminated with fungus (especially Armillaria, honey fungus). Mar 25, 2017 at 21:28
  • grinning...the second something dies the decomposers are there. i've had to deal with so many tree deaths because of this. in the wild you bet this is happening. slow but sure. especially in dry climates. i'll send info one of these days. i am holding a baby bunny at the moment...aaarrrgghhh. did you see the staking wounds?
    – stormy
    Mar 25, 2017 at 21:38
  • @Georgeofalltrades Take a look at this article. I've done major seminars on this subject and taught landscape maintenance crews to be aware of this problem. And problem it most certainly is especially in the desert or low moisture environments. walterreeves.com/landscaping/tree-planted-too-deep-examples
    – stormy
    Mar 26, 2017 at 16:46

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