Signs of Death in Trees
During the winter, it can be difficult to tell whether your tree is actually dead, or simply dormant. There are several authentic tests you can perform to discover the answer yourself. First, you need to inspect the tree for any buds that may be living. Approach the tree and look for very small green leaves. Although you cannot see them from far away during the coldest temperatures, they are visible up close. Take a good look at the entire outer bark, or surface of the tree trunk.
During the winter its natural for a tree to shed its outer layer of bark, for a much stronger new layer. If you see any spots of the trunk that have not regrown bark its possible your tree is not doing great. Lastly, the scratch test is where you use either your nails, or a relatively sharp object to scratch the trees twigs. If the inside of the twig is a vibrant green and moist it is still alive. However, if the inside of the tree twigs is brown, black, or gray it is likely sick. You can also try bending the twigs on the tree. If they snap with little effort the twigs are absolutely dead.