How to Diagnose the Cause of Dying Tree Branches. If you have a tree whose branches appear to be dying, it's important that you diagnose the cause so that you can remedy the problem. There are various potential causes of problems in a tree, so follow these steps to diagnose the cause of dying tree branches.
Determine if the tree was transplanted into its current location recently. Sometimes if a tree doesn't receive enough moisture after transplanting, it can die or exhibit problems.
Check if any construction, fertilizing or spraying has taken place near the tree in the months before the tree's branches began to die. For example, if construction workers piled extra soil on top of the tree's root system, the dirt could deprive the roots of their oxygen supply, leading to dying branches.
Understand that uncharacteristic weather conditions can result in tree problems. For example, an early freeze, late freeze or drought conditions can result in dying leaves and branches on some trees.
Look for brown spots, chewed holes or other insect damage on the tree. In addition, look for the insects themselves that could cause damage to the tree. There could also be a fungal, bacterial or viral infection of the tree. Look for signs of these such as round leaf spots, irregular leaf spots or distortion of the tree, respectively.
Perform a soil test of the soil surrounding the tree. You may find that the tree doesn't have the necessary nutrients for survival.