Dying Oak Tree or just having a bad year

Asked August 19, 2015, 4:10 PM EDT

We have a red oak tree in our back yard that has been there for between 7-10 years. Up until this year it seemed to be doing very well and was happily established. Multiple times (at least 3 separate occasions) this spring/early summer it dumped large numbers of leaves. It seemed to recover each time and then would do it again a few weeks later. About 4-5 weeks ago all remaining leaves have turned brown - but are staying in place despite appearing dead. Is there anything we can do to help it recover and come back next year or is it too late? The only change in its environment, that I know of, is a close maple tree was cut down (because it was entangled in power lines).

Baltimore County Maryland oaks decline leaf drop trees

1 Response

We have received reports of leaf drop on different types of landscape trees due to wet conditions in the early spring and summer and recent hot, dry conditions. However, we cannot say for sure what is going on with the oak tree. When trees are stressed due to environmental and cultural conditions such as poor soils, planting too deeply, too much mulch, poor drainage, soil compaction, etc. they can be susceptible to secondary issues like insect and disease problems. See our publications on these types of problems and shade trees in general.
All you can do is remove dead wood, water the tree during dry periods, and make sure mulch is not thicker than several inches and keep away from the trunk.
At this point you may want to contact several certified arborists for an onsite diagnosis regarding the health of the tree and the best way to proceed. http://www.treesaregood.org/ http://extension.umd.edu/sites/default/files/_images/programs/hgic/Publications/HG86%20Common%20Abio... http://extension.umd.edu/sites/default/files/_images/programs/hgic/Publications/HG61_IPM_Series_Shad... mh