I suspected last fall when I cut down 16 dead trees and then hired four more next to the house cut down in early winter, that I hadn't seen the last of them. After several extremely wet years followed by one of the driest in history, the stress put on the trees was just more than they've seen in decades. Unfortunately, it seems as if the hardest trees hit were the black cherry and red/black oak trees. Of the 20 I have had removed, I think 14 were black cherry, 5 oak and one hackberry. Technically the hackberry was a living tree but it was an extremely poor specimen that was leaning way over my garage.
I had three more large oak trees that were losing bark all winter long. All three had leaves on them last fall and all three had buds on them this spring but I suspected that they were all three dead. Two of them were in locations that even I could fall them without endangering anything but one was in a tight spot. It was near a city light pole and the street out front and perhaps of worst of all, was leaning heavily in that direction. I wasn't comfortable with my skills for falling it without landing it across the street or taking out the light pole or both.
A couple weeks ago, my younger brother was up for a visit and as it happens, he is an expert when it comes to falling trees having taken lots of classes and then used those skills for decades with the forest service. I decided to ask his opinion on the oak in the tight spot and he volunteered to help me fall it down the very next day. The next afternoon, he and my father came up and within about 15 minutes, he had fallen it exactly where we wanted away from streets and light poles. It took us another 2 hours with two chainsaws running to cut and stack everything up.
What surprised me was that though the oak tree had buds, it had died after that because all the branch ends were dead and brittle. Based upon that knowledge, I was fairly certain that the other two oaks were also dead but we didn't have time to cut them down so I decided to just wait for everything to leaf out and make sure. Two weeks later, all the oaks have now begun to leaf out except for those two suspect trees. Now I have two more to cut down and process. If I play my cards right, I may be able to time things so that I'm free to do so this fall when my brother is back up for another visit.
Fortunately I still have quite a few living trees scattered around the property and now that things are getting thinned out, the remaining trees should get much stronger since they don't have to compete so much. Next spring, I hope to do some repopulation measures but scattering out some red bud and service berry trees along the perimeter to get some color into our spring.