I once asked a neighbor with several dead pine trees why he had not removed them yet. He said he wanted to wait to see if they would come back in the spring.
I've always tried to make "dead-tree analysis" simple - If it's brown, take it down.
While my neighbor’s pine trees were not “brown,” they were certainly 100 percent rust-colored!
You don't always need a tree doctor to tell you if a tree is dead. There are a few exceptions to the rule, but if a tree's leaves are 100 percent brown, or if a pine tree's needles are 100 percent rust-colored, the tree is dead, and it needs to come down soon.
There are three reasons why you shouldn't put off having dead trees removed. First, a dead tree could fall on its own or be pushed over by winds, so it’s a safety threat to nearby houses, fences, garages, automobiles, etc. If an insurance company can prove you knew for some time that a tree was dead and didn't have it removed, they may not pay an insurance claim for damages.
Second, a dead tree falling among other healthy trees can damage those trees, ripping off branches and gouging trunks.
And third, it may actually cost more to have a dead tree cleared away later because removal becomes more intricate with decomposition. In a tree's early stages of death, it is solid enough for an expert to climb and remove it one section at a time. When it's rotting, no one can safely climb the trunk, so the removal process requires more equipment, more workers, and costs more money. So, if it's brown, take it down ... immediately!!!
How do you know if a tree is struggling to stay alive? Many trees are starting to shed leaves for our winter, as they normally would. However, trees shedding yellowing leaves prematurely are likely having problems and could benefit from deep-root watering and feeding. I encourage you to do it on your own, but older trees need treatment by a professional. Be careful, though: price-gouging tree companies come out of the cracks this time of year.
Be sure you're getting a good deal from a certified tree company. The cost of tree removal depends on the size of the tree and its ease of accessibility. Call at least three companies for bids. Price-gougers will overcharge because they think you may be trapped. Uninsured companies will give you the cheapest bids because they don't have much overhead. However, "rational" bids will never be the cheapest or the most expensive. Affordable Tree Service at 713-699-2663, a company I have endorsed for years, is a good example of a company that does rational bids. They’ll probably not be the cheapest, because they are insured and have workman’s compensation coverage for their teams. And they most likely will never be the most expensive, because they know there’s plenty of work out there to be had.
Any tree company that bids your project should provide proof of liability coverage and workman's compensation insurance. If they can't or won't, don't hire them. If something bad happens due to a fallen tree, it'll all be on you and your insurance. Don't let Murphy's Law take part in your need for tree removal.