Scratch Test on Trees: Does It Work?

Scratch Test on Trees: Does It Work?

Scratch Test on Trees: Does It Work?

Spring is the perfect time to test your trees for strength. One way to do this is by doing a scratch test on a tree. However, some people don’t know what a tree scratch test is or if it works.

Let’s look at scratch test basics and how you can use them to test your trees’ strength.

What Is a Scratch Test?

A scratch test is simply taking your fingernail or a key and scratching the bark of your tree to get to the cambium layer.

The tree is solid if you can’t easily scratch the bark. If the bark is loose, it’s a sign that the tree is weak. If the bark is tight, it means the tree is strong.

You may see a brown or white substance on the bark after you scratch it. This substance is sap, meaning the tree is still alive. It’s the tree’s way of healing itself.

Does the Scratch Test Work?

The tree scratch test is a quick and easy way to test the strength of your trees, but it’s not foolproof. There are a few things that can affect the results of the test.

For example, if the tree is young, the bark may be thin and not as strong as an older tree. Additionally, if the tree is sick or damaged, it may not be as strong as a healthy tree.

While the scratch test is an excellent way to test the strength of your trees, it’s not the only way to see if a tree is dead. If you’re concerned about your trees, you should also contact tree trimming experts in Philadelphia.

Why Is it Called a Scratch Test?

The scratch test gets its name because you’re scratching the bark of your tree. This method is a way to see if the bark is loose or tight without damaging the tree.

The test is quick and easy to do and can give you a good idea of the strength of your tree.

Things to Avoid When Doing the Scratch Test

You don’t want to damage your tree when doing the scratch test on trees. Here are a few things to avoid:

  • Using a sharp object to scratch the bark. 
  • Scratching too hard. You should only scratch the surface of the bark, not dig into it.
  • Using the test on already damaged or sick trees. 

Berry Plants & Vines

The scratch test on a tree can also work well on berry plants and vines; just scratch the plant’s bark to see if it’s loose or tight. If the bark is tight, the plant is strong. The plant is weak if the bark is loose or you see dead branches.

If the plant has dead or dying leaves or branches, it’s likely sick. It may weaken if the plant is slow to sprout leaves in the spring. If animals have chewed on the plant, it may suffer damage. 

The tree scratch test is a helpful way to determine the toughness of your plants, but it isn’t the only method. If you’re concerned about your plants’ strength, you should consult with experts.


Although performing a scratch test on trees is not a definitive way to determine the health of your trees, it can be a helpful tool for identifying potential problems. You can also learn more about how arborists can help strengthen your trees.

If you have any concerns about your tree’s health, don’t hesitate to call Mercados Landscaping at (215) 764-5509 for an evaluation. We would be happy to help you keep your landscape in Philadelphia, PA, looking beautiful and healthy all year round!

How Long Can a Dead Tree Remain Standing?

How Long Can a Dead Tree Remain Standing?

If you walk outside after a storm and see a tree struck by lightning, you might think it’s dead. Sometimes a tree can appear dead but is still alive.

This trick is because the tree’s root system might still be intact and able to provide the tree with the nutrients it needs to survive. So, how long can a dead tree remain standing? These signs can help you tell if a tree is dead and how long it might last.

Symptoms of a Dead Tree

One of the most obvious signs that a tree is dead is if it has no leaves. If all the leaves on a tree have fallen off and it’s not due to a season change, then the tree is likely dead. Another sign of a dead tree is if the bark is falling off or is discolored.

When a tree is alive, the bark is typically a healthy color. Finally, it’s likely dead if a tree is leaning to one side or uprooted.

When a tree is alive, it’s anchored in the ground by its roots. If the tree is leaning to one side or uprooted, it no longer has the support it needs to stay upright.

You might also see small animals or insects nesting in a dead tree. This nesting is because there are no leaves to provide shelter, so the tree becomes a good place for animals to live.

How Long Can a Dead Tree Remain Standing?

The amount of time it takes for a dead tree to fall over depends on the type of tree and the conditions. A dead tree can stand for a short amount of time but not very long. This short time is because the tree no longer gets the nutrients it needs to stay alive, so it will eventually rot and decay thanks to a lack of sufficient moisture content.

While a dead tree might not be a danger to you in a remote area, it can be a hazard near your home or other buildings. If the tree falls over, it could damage your property or injure someone. It’s vital to remove dead trees before they have a chance to fall over.

If you’re asking, “How long can a dead tree remain standing?” or unsure about the tree in your yard, you can contact tree removal service professionals in Philadelphia. We can assess the tree and give you an accurate diagnosis.

Prevent Dying Trees

The best way to deal with a dead tree is to prevent it from dying. This prevention means being proactive about the health of the trees on your property. 

You should also take steps to protect your trees from damage. This protection means avoiding activities that can harm the roots or trunk of the tree. For example, don’t drive over roots or dig around the base of tree stands.

When it comes to dead trees, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you think a tree might be dead, it’s best to remove it as soon as possible. This removal will help to avoid any damage or injury that might occur if the tree falls over.

Now that you know the answer to “How long can a dead tree remain standing?” you can learn more about what to do before and after tree removal with Mercados Landscaping. We are one of the most trusted tree removal professionals in Philadelphia with years of experience.

Contact us today at (215) 764-5509 to schedule a consultation. We can help you protect the health of your property’s trees by identifying issues early and providing proactive and effective solutions. 


Top 10 Tree Care Myths

Top 10 Tree Care Myths

Myths and misconceptions about tree care abound in every part of the world. Naturally, every homeowner wants to ensure that the trees on their property always look perfect. To achieve this feat, you usually find yourself asking for advice from other people or searching for information online that turns out to be false old wives’ tales.

Notably, employing the wrong tree care practices can damage your precious tree, so it is important to ensure that you always use safe and proven techniques. These are the top 10 tree care myths you need to know and why you should avoid taking them as the gospel truth.

1.    Trees that have just been planted need to be pruned aggressively to combat root loss

Some tree experts advise homeowners to prune newly planted trees aggressively to reduce the volume of water that evaporates through the leaves. Water indeed gets lost through the pores on the leaves. However, you should be aware that trees require as many leaves as possible to make the essential nutrients that the tree needs to stimulate root growth. Trees with many leaves grow better and develop a large root network and many leaves. It would be nice if you restrict tree pruning to shaping the tree and eliminating ruined or dead branches.

2.    It would be best if you filled a tree cavity with concrete to promote healing

The myth about filling the gap in trees with concrete has been around for many years, and people used to consider it beneficial. The reasoning behind it was that using concrete to fill the gap is a harmful practice that could strengthen the weakened tree.

But, it has now been established by scientists that this habit is harmful to a tree. As the filled tree sways in the wind, the inside of the tree develops wounds due to abrasion caused by the concrete block in the tree that remains stationary. Diseases and decay can affect the tree through the new wounds.

tree care services

3.    Tree topping is good since it improves the health of non-thriving trees and minimizes the fall danger

The truth is that tree topping is dangerous for any tree. Actually, this practice creates more fall risk because new growth is usually badly attached. Additionally, tree topping substantially decreases a tree’s capacity to photosynthesize and generate nutrients for the tree, making it more vulnerable to insect attacks and disease.

Many homeowners believe that this practice is the greatest way to control their established trees. Even though it provides a convenient solution, it is dangerous and causes more harm to a tree’s health in the long run.

4.    Trees that have just been recently planted must be staked

The truth is that staking trees depends on a tree’s species. Some species require physical support to maintain the erect position. Such trees need stakes. On the flip side, if you stake a tree that can stand properly without the need for reinforcement, you can weaken it. Staking is crucial in windy places and if a tree requires assistance in maintaining an upright posture. Staking is mostly recommended for a young tree. Remove stakes as soon as the tree takes becomes mature and is firm.

tree trimming service

5.    A tree’s root system resembles its top, and the tree needs root fertilization to be done deeply to get to access its root system

The truth is that taproots are very rare in established trees. If taproots actually grow, they are normally forced to develop horizontally when they come into contact with a layer of rocks underground. The whole root system of most trees can be located just beneath the soil’s surface, less than three feet into the ground.

They have an extensive root system that spreads widely, usually about two or three times the size of the crown. Therefore, putting fertilizer too deep into the soil is unnecessary. The tree roots grow where oxygen and water are readily available, a few inches from the surface.

6.    It is good to dress a tree wound

Dressing a wound on people may be helpful, but it is not so with trees. Many professional arborists can attest that treating a tree wound requires different approaches, which are determined by how the tree got the injury. In some situations, a sealant or tar can suffice. The tree seal may be homemade or bought from a store. Most of the time, leaving the wound alone to cure naturally is the perfect solution.

tree service

7.    Trees can take care of themselves like they do in the forest

This is another common myth that makes rounds in the tree world. People believe that trees do not need tending since they can grow well in the forest without needing any help. It may be hard to notice when a tree dies in the forest because there are many other trees surrounding it.

Additionally, trees grown in an urban area grow in harsh conditions compared to those in the forest, such as pollution and the presence of buildings. Therefore, trees growing on a homestead need close attention if you want strong and healthy-looking trees. You must take good care of them regardless of whether they are newly planted trees or matured ones.

8.    A lot of mulch is good

Mulch consists of organic substances that are added to the soil. There are many benefits of applying mulch, such as improving the appearance of an area, enhancing the soil’s health and fertility, and reducing evaporation. Using about 4 inches of mulch is good for healthy trees and helps you achieve the advantages mentioned earlier.

Unfortunately, there is a common belief that a lot of mulch is even better. Too much mulch is dangerous, especially to newly planted young trees, because it promotes pathogen growth and acts as the hiding ground for rodents and certain insects.

9.    It is wrong to prune bleeding trees during spring

Trees like walnuts, birches, and maples excrete a red sap in spring if you prune them. A majority of people think that it is bad to prune such trees in spring to prevent the excretion of the sap. They fear that pruning a tree that bleeds during spring will stress it and negatively affect its health.

Nevertheless, scientists have established that it is okay to lightly prune this kind of tree at any time of the year. Ensure that you use the correct method to ensure the newly pruned trees will not get damaged.

10. Pruning often is essential, particularly for overgrown trees

Pruning usually involves removing dead branches. Whereas regular pruning of a tree is known to be a beneficial practice, going overboard can have devastating effects on the health and life of a tree. Overgrowth of a tree will make you tempted to prune some branches.

Over-pruning results in substantial growth sprouts, leading to competition with other tree sections for food, energy, and ultimately death. If you do not know when to limit pruning or how to prune evenly, it would be best if you seek the services of a reputable tree services company.

tree pruning service

Why Choose Mercado’s Landscaping and Tree Service LLC in Philadelphia, PA

Some people will tell you that any tree care services provider that advertises their services, whether online or offline, is good enough, so you can go ahead and hire them. However, it is important to research a company before entrusting them with taking care of your tree.

Ensure that the tree service company has proper certificates, a good reputation, and vast experience in their field before hiring them to work for you. If you are in Philadelphia, PA, look no further than Mercado’s Landscaping & Tree Services LLC. We are

We only hire the best ISA-certified arborist professionals in the field because we endeavor to provide quality services to our clients.

We have experience taking care of different tree species. Thus, there is no tree planted in Philly we cannot tend to. We know the best soil type for each tree species. After extensive examination, we will diagnose the problem with your tree and provide an ideal solution. We can also help you discern which tree care myths are true and which ones are false.

We make sure that we do things right the first time to help you save money and time. Contact us today and let us worry about all your tree care needs.

Codominant Tree: Dangers and What to Do

Codominant Tree: Dangers and What to Do

Codominance isn’t always a problem, but it can be harmful to the tree’s structure in some cases. If you’ve ever seen a tree with two stems growing out of the trunk, then you’ve seen a codominant tree before. It’s a common problem when trees grow farther apart than they usually grow.

Do you have a damaged tree because of codominance? Call us today for a free quote for tree removal service in Philadelphia from Mercado’s Landscaping and Tree Services.

What Is a Codominant Tree?

A codominant tree is when two or more stems grow from the same trunk in separate directions. A codominant stem doesn’t mean that you don’t have healthy trees. A codominant tree can grow successfully, but this depends on how the branches grow from the trunk.

There are two identifiable shapes to codominant trees, and one is far more structurally sound than the other. A V-shaped stem suggests that the tree is likely to fail, while a U-shaped branch gives the tree a much better chance of survival.


When you see a V-shaped stem, you should be concerned for your tree’s longevity. In these trees, bark will get wedged between the two stems, pushing the two limbs further apart. Eventually, this will cause the branches to crack.

U Shaped

If the two stems join in a U-shaped stem, the tree is more likely to be structurally stable. In this case, the bark isn’t trapped and instead creates a bark ridge, which protects the trunk from decay.

Are Codominant Trees Dangerous?

Depending on the tree’s location, a codominant tree can be a potential hazard. If it’s too close to a building or yard where children play, for example, you should address the problem before anything dangerous happens.

The biggest concern as far as dangers go is falling limbs. The branches aren’t nearly as stable in a codominant tree as an individual tree. A heavy wind coming through could be enough to cause one limb to crack and fall.

Can You Prevent a Codominant Stem?

Structural pruning is the technique used to guide the tree into growing a solid and proper form. It helps if you act sooner rather than later when dealing with codominant trees. That means you should start pruning when a tree is young if it shows signs of growing two stems.

Once a tree matures, it becomes more complicated, requiring more significant pruning cuts, cabling, and other tools. It should come without saying that with that added work comes an added cost, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything for a matured tree. The sooner you start structural pruning, the less it will cost you, in the long run, to keep your tree healthy and growing properly.  

Does Structural Pruning Work on Mature Trees?

If you already have a mature tree on your property with a concerning codominant stem, you will want to address it before it becomes a problem. In the case of a V-shaped stem, calling a trusted tree service is usually better than attempting to prune the tree yourself since they can better tell which branch to cut away and which to leave.

In some cases, a structural support system is better than attempting to prune a matured tree. The supports include steel cables or rods installed between the stems. The wires or rods reduce movement, which improves wind resistance to improve the trees’ structural integrity.

Call us today at (215) 746-5509 to learn more about arborist services in the Philadelphia area.

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