Gardening expert David Domoney shares clever hack to check a tree is healthy using a penny

David Domoney's coin hack is a shortcut to working out whether your plants and shrubs are fighting fit or could do with some extra TLC

David Domoney coin hack
(Image credit: Future / David Giles)

Whether you have an orchard or an extensive shrubbery collection, keeping an eye on the health of your plants and trees can be difficult. However, presenter and horticulturalist David Domoney coin hack is the perfect shortcut to test the health of a plant without reaching for your best hand saw

David Domoney often shares handy gardening tips on ITV's Love Your Garden and social media. On a segment for the British TV show This Morning, he explained how you could use a coin to scrape a layer of bark off a branch to check the condition of your trees or plants. 

'If you’re not sure what’s dead or what’s alive, I’ll give you a good tip,' he said. He held up two branches one that is dead and one that was alive.

David Domoney coin hack

(Image credit: Future)

'Here’s what you do. You need one of these. It’s an expensive bit of equipment, it costs 2p,' he joked. A penny or quarter will also work for the job as you just need it to scratch off the bark.

After scratching the outside of the bark off, the presenter explained that you could see that the inside of the branch was dry and brown. This indicates that the tree is not healthy, it is tricky if not almost impossible to revive a dying tree, so it is important to address the problem quickly.

David Domoney coin hack

David Domoney (far right) on ITV's Love Your Garden

(Image credit: ITV)

On the other branch that David had scratched the bark off, it was green inside. This indicates that the tree or plant is alive and well so you can hold off the tree surgeons for another day. You might even consider investing in another tree, if so take a look at our best trees for small gardens guide. 

If you're not sure if your plants could benefit from the penny test, the Royal Horticultural Society suggests looking out for these tell-tale signs of poor health - stunted growth, poor leafing up, premature leaf fall, yellow or browning leaves or shedding of branches.

David Domoney coin hack

(Image credit: Future)

The penny hack can also be used to help when pruning shrubs. This is particularly handy if the plant hasn't come into leaf yet.

Similar to the example above simply scrape a small patch of bark on a branch, if it is brown it is dead and can be cut off. It is green and white inside it is alive and well and should be left alone.

Rebecca Knight

Rebecca has worked as a homes and interiors journalist for over four years, and is currently the Deputy Editor on Ideal Home online. Previously, she was the News Editor across the Future homes and gardens brands, including She lives in a rented flat in South London where she makes the most of window boxes to create small container gardens. Inside she has a jungle of houseplants in nearly every room which she does her best to keep up with regular watering and repotting.