It appears that this young tree is dying (see pics). This is my 1st house so I have no idea what I'm doing.
I think it's an oak tree, but I don't even know. Is it an oak tree? Anyway, last week I removed a lot of mulch that was surrounding the base of tree, and moved it back from the base. I read that too much mulch around the base of a tree could suffocate it, especially if it's a young tree. Last week I also inserted tree fertilizer stakes along the tree's dripline.
I'm not sure what to do next. Leaves are only growing on 1/4 of the tree. The rest of the tree is bare. Should I go ahead and cut off all the dead branches? Is there a technique for cutting off branches without doing too much damage to the tree? What's up with the bark at the base of the tree? Is the tree diseased? Can the tree actually be saved? Should I start thinking about replacing it with another? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!