Hello!! We have, I believe an oak tree. It is probably 40' tall in our...

Asked April 23, 2020, 6:26 PM EDT

Hello!! We have, I believe an oak tree. It is probably 40' tall in our backyard about 30 to 40' away from our house. You will see in the attached 4 pics an arrow pointing to an area about 9' up. This is filled with saw dust. I could not get a good pic of the sawdust. Worried about what to do with this tree. The tree looks healthy to me with new leaves coming in and don't see a lot of dead branches. We have had various opinions on what to do. They are never sure whether it needs to be cut down. One person wants to tie the branches together for support. I love this tree. But will do what we have to do to stay safe. Please advise if you need a pic of the sawdust. My husband can get on a ladder!!Thank you so much. Theresa

Cuyahoga County Ohio

1 Response

Theresa, Thanks for using Ask a Master Gardener with your tree question.

The system only allow for one photo to be attached with your initial question. I am not able to see the area with the sawdust even when I enlarge the photo, so I am not able to give you any direction on that issue.

Looking at the tree and the bark, I do not believe that you have an Oak tree but rather a large Silver Maple. The tree has some significant structural issues with the crotch angle below the arrow you drew as well as the narrow angle between the branches above that spot. The area will hold water and lead to decay between the branches. It is possible, if the area has begun decay, that there may be carpenter ants beginning to work in the wet wood. That could possibly cause some sawdust.

The only way to have the tree truly evaluated is to use a certified Arborist. You can find one by putting your zip code in the following site:


I hope this gives you some direction on your tree. Please don't make your husband climb to photograph, you really need a professional on site to evaluate your tree. Thanks for the question.