The loss of a major limb that splits off at the trunk can leave a disturbing wound on the trunk of a landscape tree. It can be so severe that you may not be sure if the tree can survive. The following guide can help you survey the damage so you can then determine whether or not the tree can be saved.
How extensive is the wound?
With luck, the branch simply split off, leaving a relatively minor bark wound at it's previous location. As long as the missing bark doesn't completely encircle the trunk, chances are the tree can survive. This is because the bark is part of the tree's vascular system – if it is completely broken between the roots and the leaves, there is no way for nutrients and moisture to travel. In this case, the tree will decline and die.
Is the branch still attached?
In some cases the branch splits and droops toward the ground, but it doesn't split off completely. It is generally better to remove the branch than try to heal it if less than half of it is still attached. To do this, cut off the branch with a clean pruning saw, removing it fairly flush to the trunk.
If the branch is still predominantly attached, you can try and save it. This is best done for branches that were growing at an upward angle to the trunk, otherwise the weight of the branch will simply cause it to split again. Lift the branch back into place and drive a galvanized wood screw through the branch and into the trunk, anchoring the branch in place. Over time, the wood and bark of the tree will grow over the screw, fully anchoring the branch in place.
Should the wound be tended?
For branches that split off entirely or require cutting off, some minor care is necessary. Use a sharp, clean knife to trim the ragged bark off so the edges are smooth and the shape of the wound is a rough oval. Curved edges heal better than straight edges because moisture won't collect on them as easily. There is no need to cover the wound with paint or any other type of dressing.
What if the wound becomes weepy?
A weepy tree wound usually means that the sap is running. This is most likely to occur in late winter or early spring. If the wound occurred the previous year, you may see some weepiness the following spring. This is completely natural and doesn't indicate an infection or illness in the tree.
Contact a tree service if you need more help in caring for the wounded tree or if you decide that complete tree removal is the better option.
6 July 2016
When I bought my first home, I was terribly inexperienced when it came to maintaining it. It seemed as if something was always broken. After spending a weekend battling with my oven, I decided that I enough was enough. I started reading everything I could about things related to the home. By the end of my research, I still could not fix my plumbing, but I could look knowledgeable as the plumber explained what was wrong. In an effort to help others avoid the tedious task of reading book after book about plumbing and appliance repairs, I started this blog. Hopefully, this information will save someone from a weekend spent wrestling with their own appliances.