My Tree Is Brown At The Top, Is It Dying?

The top of your tree, “The Crown”, should be the healthiest part of your tree. If you are noticing browning of leaves or loss of leaves at the crown of your tree, it is experiencing a common but serious tree symptom called crown decline. This can be caused by many issues; root stress or damage, insect infestation, drought, bad soil composition or too much water due to the recent hurricane.

Below I explain the two most common reasons you would have crown decline on Hilton Head Island or Bluffton, SC.


Your tree may not have been visibly damaged in the hurricane, but you may now start seeing the first signs of crown decline. Why? Your tree likes moist soil, but cannot tolerate overtly wet soils. In conjunction, the soil is most likely compacted due to the amount of destruction during the storm and the construction to clean up after the storm. Compacted soil has little oxygen causing water to not drain through very well. The trees did not have an ability to drain the amount of water that was produced from the storm. This forced all of the oxygen out further. All plants breathe through their roots, not their leaves. When the ground is saturated, the roots are asphyxiated, reducing root size and root function. When roots are in water logged soil and have no oxygen, the roots don’t function and they can’t absorb water or nutrients. This stresses the trees, and their tops die first.


There are types of insects that can kill your tree from the crown down. Examples include; bark beetles, emerald ash borers, gold spotted oak borer, pine beetles. Check for entry/exit holes in the trunk of your tree if you think insects may be an issue. Woodpecker activity is a great indicator of beetles in your tree.


If you feel that your tree has “Crown Decline”, call us to give you a diagnosis and a plan.

Leonard Mink Tree Service