Repairing Tree Bark Damage

Published: 19th October 2010
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Tree bark can become damaged for many reasons. One common way a tree is injured and becomes infected is due to lawn mowers and weed trimmers. People donít realize when they are mowing or trimming around their trees the damage they can cause to that tree. The place of injury typically occurs at the trees buttress, or the part that sticks out from the trunk. With numerous small repeated wounds, the tree can become damaged. This damage is especially dangerous to the tree if it occurs in early spring during leaf emergence or in early fall during leaf drop. It is during this time that the tree bark is slipping or loose due to cambium growth.





You can protect your tree from injury by simply hand trimming the grass around the tree or preventing grass and weeds from growing at the base of the tree with the use of a herbicide or mulch.



Injury can be prevented by the removal (by hand trimming) or prevention (use of a herbicide or mulch) of grass and weeds from growing at the base of the tree.



Once a tree is wounded, the tree tries to protect itself from pathogens that would invade the wound. These microorganisms often attack the injured bark and invade adjacent healthy tissue, greatly enlarging the affected area. You can also completely girdle your tree from microbial attack after it has been injured. Watch for decay fungi, which also becomes active on the wound surface. This causes structural deterioration of the woody tissues beneath the wound.





If your tree has been wounded, even if in a minor way, you will need to repair that wound. Here are some ways to tend to tree bark wounds.



1. Scratched Tree - Wash the wound out with plain soap and water. This helps to reduce the amount of pathogens that would be in the scratch and that could cause further damage. Follow this with washing the wound thoroughly with plain water. Allow the scratch to heal in the open air, do not apply a sealant on it.



2.Replacing Bark That Has Come Off - If you can find the bark that has been removed from a tree after damage, gather it up and try reattaching it to the tree. You can use duct tape to secure the bark back to the tree. Like working a puzzle, make sure the bark is placed exactly as it was before it fell off, laying in the right direction. A tree transfers nutrients in only one direction. You must do this quickly before the bark dies. Wait for 12 weeks before removing the tape.



3. Bark That Falls Off and Canít Be Replaced - If you cannot retrieve the bark that has been pulled from a tree, you still will need to clean the wound. Jagged wounds will interfere with the treeís ability to transport nutrients so you will need to clean cut the wound. Cut an oval around the circumference of the damaged portion of the bark. Donít dig too deep. Let the wound air heal and do not use a sealant. Check the wound as often as possible to remove insects. If recovery doesnít happen in 2-3 weeks, seek professional help.





Healthy trees usually recover from wounding quickly. If you have made the above fixes on your wounded tree, remember to also keep your tree watered and fertilized properly. Having extra attention will help your tree strong and allow its wound to close quicker, not to mention improve its resistance to decay.





Andrew Johnson is the owner of Central Texas Tree Care, a leading tree service provider in Central Texas (Travis County and surrounding areas) offering services such as pruning and removals, cabling and bracing as well as arborist reports, diagnostics, pest management, fertilization and Austin tree service trusts. For more information please visit http://www.centraltexastreecare.com.

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