Monitoring the Growth of Your Tree

By Nancy Penrose

Monitoring the growth of your trees will help keep them healthy and thriving. Here are some of the different stages of tree growth:

Starting life as a seed. If your tree has been planted as a seed, the first thing you will see as it grows is a short stem. At this early stage of life, most of the tree’s energy will be used to continue growing.

Young trees. Most young trees are small, thin and extremely vulnerable. They will need protection and space to grow. The growth will usually occur around the canopy and root system, with branches becoming longer. Young trees will need very little, if any, pruning.

Established trees. When a tree establishes itself, it will start growing at a faster pace. Established trees are more capable of protecting themselves against disease, illnesses and pests. Pruning during this period will ensure a good branch structure.

Saplings. Trees that have grown several feet in height with a declining growth rate are called saplings. They will usually have a trunk that is a foot or less in diameter.

Mature trees. Mature trees have strong branches with a large amount of foliage. Tree limbs will keep growing, but not as quickly. Mature trees also have the most strength and can reproduce.

Later stages of maturity. Many trees, during late stages of maturity, will start developing flat-topped canopies. The tree’s energy will decrease and major limbs may start to die. Seed production will also decline. Pruning can help maintain tree health, but over-pruning can cause damage and make the tree less resistant to disease and pests.

End stages of maturity. During the final stages of life, it will become more difficult for a tree to protect itself against pest infestations and tree disease. You will also see more limbs dying and breaking off. The trunks will also become hallow.

How long a tree lives will depend on its general health, maintenance and various environmental factors.

Any dead trees on your property should be removed by a big tree specialist or tree arborist who has the proper tree removal equipment.

Nancy Penrose is owner of Big Trees Inc. (, (tree nursery Snohomish, WA), one of the largest Seattle tree nurserys, specializing in large trees for sale and transplanting tree service. Learn more about tree preservation at and for more tips on big trees care or installation go to See our video at and connect with us on Facebook at