It might have been a thoughtless maneuver with the new mower, or maybe it’s your teenager who was busy texting while backing out of the driveway. Regardless of the reason, sometimes our trees can get injured. Destroyed tree bark isn’t only an aesthetic issue, but it can be a severe health problem for your tree.
Tree Bark’s Function
The bark is the tree's skin. The outer layer of the bark shields the tree from diseases and insects. When this layer comes off, it opens the tree to potential decay and infection.
Also, the phloem is safeguarded by a tree’s bark. Phloem is a portion of the tree’s circulatory system and is vital for a tree’s survival. The phloem transports the energy-rich sugars, made during photosynthesis, through the entire tree. When the bark is eliminated, this flow of food is barred, and the damaged section of the tree starts to dry out.
So, what can you do to help tree damaged bark?
Assess the Extent of the Damage
If the damaged bark is less than ¼ of the total diameter of the tree, then the tree should recover from the damage if you maintain accurate tree care for it.
If up to 50% of the tree’s diameter is damaged, the tree can still survive, but it will have some severe injuries. Even with proper care, you can expect to see some die back in the canopy and trimming might be required. If over half of the tree is damaged, there is a little chance that the tree can live but it will necessitate a technique called bridge grafting. Grafting is not difficult but does entail some knowledge and skill. You should contact a tree specialist to help you determine your tree’s condition and decide if the tree is worth saving.
If the part of the bark that has been broken off is still connected at some point, you might even be able to reattach the whole thing. Put the damaged bark or bark piece back in the same location and direction it was before it fell off.
You will have to secure the piece using a strap or some other material, wrapping it securely around the trunk. This wrap will need to remain in place for at least 90 days so make sure you tie it snug and tight.
Most trees, even evergreens, will drop needles or leaves when they are stressed due to drought. This is part of the tree’s coping mechanism because of drought, detaching the portion that loses water. Of course, the trade-off is that the tree is also losing parts that photosynthesize. It’s a gentle balance.
Trees can lose all their leaves to drought and recovery. Sometimes they don’t. If a tree is severely stressed and sheds all its leaves, it could be unable to make enough photosynthates to harden off and endure the coming winter correctly.
One way to help trees recover from drought stress is to wait and see. If you need help, contact a Buffalo Tree Care Company.
The real test to see if a stressed tree will recover will occur in the springtime. In the meantime, try to keep your tree as comfortable as possible. If it doesn’t rain, water it once a week until the frost appears, Put down a layer of mulch as well.
You can also put down light fertilization that contains potassium and nitrogen. Some folks are concerned that fall fertilization will encourage late season growth and diminish cold hardiness. There isn’t any scientific evidence to support this once a tree has set a hard bud. Potassium has been proven to improve cold hardiness.
If the tree is leafing out as usual in the spring, there is probably some crown or branch die-back if the tree had substantial drought-induced leaf drop the summer before. When it comes to how much die-back is too much, it is all contingent on the tree owner’s patience, the tree, and its location.
If the new growth looks dynamic and branch die-back is only at the branches’ ends, an arborist will prune out the tips of the dead limbs and go from there. Simply put, trees are unusual organisms and can adjust to tolerating stress.
Don’t assume a tree that has shed it's leaves, even all its leaves, is dead. Give it an opportunity to recover and make the final decision in the spring.
Buffalo Tree Service wants to help you in every aspect of tree care available. We are here to give you tips, tricks, and helpful hints to make sure that you give all the love you can to your trees!
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