An important part of keeping your landscape trees healthy is spotting health issues before they become life threatening. The following are five signs of tree distress every homeowner should know.

1. Leaf Loss

The loss of one or two leaves out of season isn't anything to be concerned about, but if leaves start yellowing or turning brown and dropping out of season, something is distressing your tree. Often, the cause is a need for water, nutrients, or both. In some instances, though, leaf loss can be the result of disease, insects, or root death. An arborist can identify the cause and prescribe treatment.

2. Canopy Dieback

If entire branches begin to die back with others surviving, pests or exposure could be the cause, but disease is most likely the culprit. Often in the first year of the condition, a few leaves may discolor or drop. The following spring, entire branches don't leaf out and the wood is dry and brittle. It may be possible to get ahead of the disease or other issue but cutting out the dead wood before the problem spreads to healthier branches.

3. Bark Cracking

Cracking or peeling bark is often a sign of insect damage beneath the bark, although it may also indicate that the heartwood of the tree is beginning to rot. If bark damage becomes severe, the tree can die. It's best to call an arborist to diagnose and treat the problem promptly, as bark loss directly impacts nutrient flow within the tree. Once too much bark is damaged or lost, the tree will be unable to recover.

4. Mushroom Growth

Mushrooms tend to grow on dead and decaying material, so spotting some growing on the trunk of your tree or from the soil around the base of a tree is alarming. All too often, mushrooms, which are the fruiting bodies of a much more extensive fungal infection, are a sign that the heartwood, roots, or both have died and are beginning to rot. Sometimes the issue can be treated, but often it is necessary to remove the tree.

5. Leaning

When a mature tree suddenly starts to lean, you have a problem. Slow root rot is a common cause. As the outer system of roots begins to rot, the tree isn't anchored as well and it can begin to lean under its own weight. Another cause for leaning is a weak anchoring root system, which can often be fixed by temporarily staking the tree and improving cultural care to encourage deeper root growth. An arborist can advise you on the best course of treatment.

If you spot any of these symptoms of distress, contact an arborist in your area.