I just bought a house and among the great trees there is a large pecan
tree with one large dead branch. I have posted a picture:
The limb on the left is completely dead. There are no live branches
coming from it, and fungus is growing on it. It has to come down,
because if it falls, it might take out the fence and my neighbor's
storage shed. My question is, is this tree salvagable without that
limb? It seems to me that without that branch, most of the weight
(two other live branches) will be on the right side of the tree. Will
that be a problem? Will the tree immediately fall over in the other
If I should cut off the dead branch, where should I cut it? It appears
to be dead all the way to the main trunk, but I can't really be sure
where the line is. Of course, if its length is just cut in half, the
Thanks in advance to anyone who has any ideas. This is my first house
and my first gardening endeavour, so I will probably be in here a lot.
This is a huge endeavor for a first! I am not sure you realize how
heavy that limb is. It can be hundreds of pounds of gangly, dead
weight. I strongly urge you to call an arborist who will give you
specific advice. You may have a County Extension Agent who
specializes in arboriculture, if so he or she may diagnose and make
recommendations for this tree. It absolutely can be saved, but you
are going to have to give it support on the side with the live growth.
I really don't think you should go at it without consulting an
Thanks. That tells me a lot about what the problems are. I'm sure I
could cut it down and haul it off (carefully); I've worked along those
lines before, and I know how incredibly heavy those big branches can
be. It's more about whether the tree would survive that removal, and
it seems to me that there's a very good chance it wouldn't without some
In any event, you remove dead trunks like that at the branch collar.
Do a search on branch collar and you will easily be able to determine
where to cut. I implore you to have an arborist take a look first.
This tree has been severely topped in the past, leading to overall
diminished health and eventually the loss of the leader. The back
stem looks to be almost as far gone, and the healthiest branch is
still truncated and problematic.
In addition, it appears the trunk flares have been buried under fill
or perhaps just too much mulch.
Can the tree survive? Maybe, though not much of it looks viable.
Certainly the loss of the dead portions would not cause the live parts
to decline or fall over. Your best bet would be to remove the dead
parts, excavate the root crown, and make sure the remaining root zone
is well mulched (and irrigated, if you've been getting as little rain
as we have). And cross your fingers, if you're the superstitious
But I'd recommend getting a replacement tree in the ground at the
earliest opportunity. When that is depends on where you are; in
Texas, we are best off planting in Fall, but more northern areas would
do well to wait till Spring (but might be able to nurse a transplant
along if it was planted now). Then, as the new tree develops, you can
go ahead and finish the pecan removal, which looks somewhat inevitable
to me. Or, as suggested, keep as much as is safe for wildlife
For a lesson in identifying hazardous trees and/or why topping is bad
(among many other topics), please visit www.treesaregood.com
ISA Certified Arborist #TX-236
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