What Do Yellow Leaves Mean?

May 12, 2020
May 12, 2020 Ryan McFadgen

What Do Yellow Leaves Mean?

When autumn approaches, you expect to see gorgeous shades of yellow, gold, and red as leaves on deciduous trees begin to change. But what if you spot yellowing leaves early in the summer months? Is this normal, or a sign of a problem?

Yes, leaves that turn yellow before the expected time of year can indeed signal a problem with your tree. In some cases you might simply need to adjust your tree care routine, especially if you’re nurturing a younger sapling that needs more support. In other cases yellowing leaves can signal a more serious disease in your tree. Tree removal can often be prevented if you catch the problem early.

Here are the tree possibilities:

Lack of water. Here in Southern California, we’re familiar with the effects of a drought. When we experience times of low rainfall, it might become necessary to increase watering of our lawns, gardens, and even trees. This is especially true with regard to younger trees, which haven’t yet developed an extensive root system that will help maximize their uptake of water. If your tree is relatively young and develops yellowing leaves, increasing waterings will often do the trick.

Pest infestations. Sometimes a tree will respond to a pest infestation with yellowing leaves. If this is the case, you might spot other signs of a pest problem, such as egg sacs (on undersides of the leaves, usually) or chewed leaves. Of course, you might spot the pests themselves, which is an almost certain way of diagnosing the problem.

Disease. Certain tree diseases, such as chlorosis, can manifest signs such as prematurely yellowing leaves. This can happen when soil is iron deficient (when there’s too much lime in the soil) or when trees aren’t getting enough light.

It’s always a good idea to have your tree’s problem correctly diagnosed before attempting to treat it. Often you can save a tree with quick attention to symptoms. But if you can’t, tree removal is sometimes necessary to protect your property from the risk of a weak tree falling. If you’re concerned about this possibility, give us a call and we can evaluate whether a diseased or dying tree should come down.


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