Why Fall is the Best Time to Remove Dead Trees from Your NY/NJ Property

October 29, 2019 |

You’ve probably noticed some trees on your Rockland County, NY or Bergen County, NJ property that look dead. Yet, are they really dead, or are they dormant?

If you have a combination of fungi and mushrooms growing at the base of your tree, then you probably have a dead tree.

If you’re a Rockland County or Bergen County homeowner, you don’t want your dead or dying trees to topple over onto your neighbor’s house, trees, or cars during a storm or because it was time.

Why You Need to Remove Your Dead Trees in the Fall

Many times, trees die slowly. Trees show signs of decay, but it may be on only one part of the tree. As time goes on, your trees may continue to decline. In the meantime, your decaying trees may be a hazard to you or your neighbors.

Fall is the perfect time to remove trees. Why? Because there are no leaves, so your certified arborist can inspect your trees looking for death, decay, or disease.

You need to ask yourself the following:

  1. Will this dead tree damage my home or property or my neighbor’s home and property—especially during very windy days or during a severe storm? If your dying or dead tree can fall on a house, car, or people, then you should cut it down.
  2. How stable is the tree? If your tree is 40% or less structurally sound, then it’s time to cut it down.
  3. Remember, your tree could be dormant. Your oak or maple tree may be preparing for a frigid NY winter and will look dead to you. However, it could be dormant. The scratch test will tell you if you have a dead or dying tree.

Take a small branch and scratch the bark. If you see green underneath the bark, then your tree is alive. Yet, you could have a partially dead tree—so if you think there’s still life in it, test different parts of the tree to see if there is any green under the tree’s bark.

Read more: 12 Tips for Stopping Deer and Other Critters from Invading Your Lawn this Winter.

  1. The tree’s roots grow shallowly in the soil. Ideally, the tree’s roots should grow between 6” and 8” below the ground. If they’re branching out near the surface of the soil, then you have a shallow-rooted tree that may fall during heavy wind gusts.

If you have a leaning tree, it’s probably still alive. Again, if your tree has shallow roots, it won’t be anchored in the ground—instead, it could develop a lean. You don’t need to cut down a leaning tree unless it can fall on homes or people.

  1. Hire a certified arborist to perform a risk assessment. Certified arborists are highly trained and skilled in tree care at all stages of the tree’s life. Your certified arborist will exam your tree and ask you questions to determine if the tree is at risk.
  2. If your dying or dead tree is in the backyard or in some woodland you own, you don’t necessarily need to cut it down.

If you have a tree with a severe lean or it has been dying for the past couple of years, but it doesn’t present a danger to anyone or anything, then you can let nature take its course.

Learn more: Why Your NY/NJ Lawn Needs Gypsum This Fall.

Your Trees Falling During a Storm

In a severe storm, such as a Nor’easter, you may have trees that fall over—but aren’t dead. You still need a certified arborist to cut down the rest of the tree and cut any large limbs.

If you think you have some trees that could fall over because they’re hollowed out or look partially dead, you want to hire a certified arborist for a tree risk assessment.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Certified Arborist?

Four factors go into the final prices of hiring a certified arborist to remove your tree:

  • The tree’s height
  • Where the tree’s located on your property
  • The condition of the tree—dead, alive, storm-damaged
  • The diameter of the tree.

Dead trees can be more expensive—based on height, location, and other factors. Small trees, such as Japanese maple, are brittle and easy to cut down. However, pin oak is a more massive tree and poses more risk factors than the Japanese maple.

Removing Tree Stumps

After the tree is cut down, you need to decide what to do with the stump. Some homeowners will let a stump rot. However, stumps take years to decay.

You also need to consider the tree’s roots. As tree roots decay, the soil becomes hollow—inviting insects and the risk of tripping over these holes.

The tree may be growing sprouts at the stump too. Waterspouts pop out of the ground and can even leaf out. However, sprouts make your lawn and landscape look unkempt.

Instead, you need your certified arborist to grind down your stump at the same time he cuts down your tree. Your NY arborist will use a stump grinder to chip away at the stump all the way into the ground. Roots and sprouts will be dug out or ground down a minimum of 8”.

You’ll have to decide what will go in the space where there is no tree. You can plant grass seed, add a patio, or plant a tree in its place.

Why You Need a Certified Arborist to Cut Down Your Dead Tree and Grind the Stump

Your certified arborist is trained to take care of trees from saplings through death. Certified arborists are specialists in tree care, including tree removal.

At Majestic Lawn Care and Landscape, President Joe Holland is a certified arborist who’ll assess your trees and recommend when they need to be cut down. He and his crew will remove your trees as well as grind down the stumps.

If you have trees on your Rockland County, NY, or Bergen County, NJ property that need removal, call Majestic Lawn Care and Landscape today at (845) 708-2988 for Rockland County, NY properties and (201) 788-7191 for Bergen County, NJ properties.

You can also fill out our contact form, and someone from our office will respond to you shortly.

At Majestic Lawn Care and Landscape, we serve the following cities in Rockland County, NY and Bergen County, NJ: New City, Nyack, Stony Point, Montebello, and Park Ridge.


HomeDepot.com, “How to Grind a Tree Stump.” (Video)

TreesAreGood.org, “Recognizing Tree Risk.” (Pdf)

Ibid, “Why Hire an Arborist?” (Pdf)

BudgetDumpster.com, “When to Cut Down a Tree.”