How Long Can a Dead Tree Remain Standing?

Even when dead, trees are essential to the environment. A dead tree, a.k.a snag in your backyard, can still look gorgeous, providing shade and food to the birds and animals visiting your garden. 

However, the problem arises when the dead tree eventually falls. This can cause a serious accident, especially if your home or garage is close to your yard.

The solution lies in knowing how long can a dead tree remain standing, so you can take the required precautions to prepare for its fall. 

It’s very important to know it, because a dead tree keeps shedding its branches which is equally hazardous.

How long can a dead tree remain standing
dead tree standing 

In this article, we have explained all that you need to know. 

How do you tell if a tree is completely dead? 

Before knowing about how long can a dead tree remain standing, it’s equally important to determine if a tree is dead or dormant. Though it’s quite difficult but there are a few telltale signs.

For instance, a dead tree trunk will have holes and wounds showing internal decay. The splits may travel vertically along the trunk.

How do you tell if a tree is completely dead
How do you tell if a tree is completely dead? 

 Besides, shedding the bark is another common sign of a dead tree. The limbs and branches of a dead tree would fall, and the leaf growth would be stunted compared to the other trees in the area. Finally, a dead tree would be dry and brittle when performing a scratch test on the tree bark. 

How long can a dead tree remain standing? (My Best Take)

A dead tree can remain standing for 1-2 years. However, the actual time depends on many factors, including the type of tree, its cause of death, soil type, and environmental factors.

Besides these, bird activities can cause a tree to fall. Birds often use dead trees to build nests and perch, which might eventually cause the dead tree to topple.

Besides, a dead tree is often infected by fungi and other insects, further weakening the structure. If the dead tree is located in an area subject to frequent storms and winds, it will fall sooner than other dead trees; likewise, if it is located in a wet area, the roots will rot quickly, causing the tree to fall. 

It’s been observed that trees that died of insect attacks fall faster than other dead trees.

How do you tell if a tree is going to fall? 

A dead tree falling can cause an accident; thus, it must not be unnoticed for long. If you have a dead tree in your yard or locality, it’s important to look for these signs to see if the tree will fall soon. 

How do you tell if a tree is going to fall
How do you tell if a tree is going to fall? 

Dead branches

Dead branches of a tree are signs of root rot. Under such conditions, the tree tries to save itself by shedding such branches. Dead branches like these are dangerous and unsteady. It only takes a strong gust of wind to knock these branches down. 

Hollow spots on the trunk

Tree cavities are signs of a decaying tree that results from improper pruning. As these cavities grow in size, the tree trunk weakens. It reaches a point where the tree cannot support itself anymore, and a strong gust of wind knocks it over. Look out for holes on your tree trunks and guard them with solid wood so the tree will not topple. 

Roots are coming up

Root rots are not unheard of, and the tree will tip over when it happens. Though it’s difficult to see the root activities since they are beneath the soil, look for fallen or dead branches and mushroom growth around the tree’s base. 

V-shaped branch growth

Ideally, branches of a healthy tree grow at an ideal distance, keeping enough space for other branches to grow. If branches start growing in V-shape, they will eventually fall. 

Is it good to leave dead trees standing?

Trees are important for the ecosystem at every stage, even when they die. Thus, is it advisable to leave your dead tree or snag standing in your backyard, provided it’s not in danger of falling? A dead tree provides the following benefits: 

Is it good to leave dead trees standing
Is it good to leave dead trees standing?
  • Wildlife: Various animals use snags to get shelter and to store food. They are also the perfect feeding grounds for many birds. For instance, woodpeckers feed on beetle larvae in such snags.
  • Soil: As the tree decays, the nutrients from its fallen leaves and branches enrich the soil. 
  • Shade and protection: Even when dead, snags protect from snow and blizzard, trapping it on their branches and eventually melting it. The soil eventually absorbs the water from the melted snow. 
  • Fire safety: Interestingly, snags can prevent fire spread through your property. The larger outer branches and trunks of a snag stop fires. 

Do dead trees eventually fall over? 

Dead trees or snags eventually fall in 1-2 years. Since trees are heavy objects and their sudden fall may cause an accident, many people choose to cut them down. However, you can allow the tree to fall on its own provides you consider the following points:

  • The tree is not near any house or structure.
  • The tree is not near a busy area like a parking lot or playground.
  • The tree is far away from anything that can be damaged.

If these conditions are met, you can allow the snag to stay put till it falls on its own. Snags provide shelter and food to various animals and birds and play a role in their local ecosystem. However, if the tree is in an unsafe environment, it’s best to cut it down.

Is a dead tree a hazard? Why should dead trees be removed? 

Unlike live and healthy trees that attract birds and other wild animals, dead trees attract harmful pests, termites, and other bugs. Bug infestations are common around dead trees and cause the tree to fall. Besides, snags are home to pests that start living in the tree’s hollow trunk.

Why should dead trees be removed
Why should dead trees be removed?

The most common are critters, rats, and bugs which can cause havoc on your property. It’s important to keep such disease-producing pests away from your home, making it essential to remove such a tree. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long can a dead pine tree remain standing?

Pine trees take a long time to die, and even after their death, they can remain standing for over 100 years. Over the course of time, the bark and the fine branches of the tree fall.

How long will a palm tree stand after it dies?

This depends on the type of palm tree; however, palm trees generally can stand for a few months to a year before falling.


Indeed there are many pros and cons of keeping a dead tree on your property, and you can choose which way you want to go. In this article, we have highlighted all the information you require to make an informed decision.

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