Birch trees are prized for their outstanding bark characteristics and their graceful delicate foliage. Numerous species and cultivars are used in landscapes, and almost all are distinctive in bark coloration, growth form, and susceptibility to certain insect pests. Though homeowners often desire birch as an ornamental tree, they soon discover that birch can be very difficult to maintain as a healthy, long-lived specimen. In many landscapes, birch trees begin to decline within a few years, and many trees die well before reaching maturity. A healthy birch tree should be able to survive and thrive for 40-50 years. In many yards, however, it is not unusual for birch trees, especially the white-barked birches, to die well before reaching 20 years of age.