4 Reasons Your Tree Is Losing Bark


A tree that is losing bark is suffering some sort of distress. It could be environmental or caused by insect pests, or it could be a result of outside damage inflicted on the tree by humans or other animals. Discovering the cause can help you form the right mitigation plan. 

1. Sun Scald

Sunscald is the likely culprit if a young or thin-barked tree variety is the victim, particularly if the peeling begins in winter or early spring. On freezing but clear days, the sun can warm up the south side of a thin-barked trunk sufficiently for surface sap to flow. Once the sun sets, the sap quickly freezes and expands. This cracks the bark and will lead to it peeling up or falling off. Wrapping susceptible tree trunks in late fall protects against sun-scald.

2. Mechanical Damage

The next most common cause of bark loss is human activity. Mechanical damage is when the tools you use in your yard damage the trunk of a tree, such as when you bump into the trunk with the lawnmower while mowing. Over time, this repetitive mechanical damage will loosen the bark until it begins to flake off in larger and larger pieces. Putting in a mulched buffer zone around the trunk can reduce mechanical damage.

3. Girdling

Girdling is when something wraps around the trunk and causes constriction. It can happen naturally, such as when a surface root grows around the lower part of the trunk and begins to squeeze, or it can happen accidentally, such as when a rope is tied around a tree trunk. As the tree grows, the item looped around the trunk constricts the growth and slows the flow of nutrients -- which causes the bark to fall off and leads to the eventual death of the tree. Don't leave items wrapped around trunks and periodically cut through any surface roots that start to surround the trunk. 

4. Pest Activity

All sorts of pests can lead to bark loss. There are plenty of insects that will bore through the bark or live beneath it, slowly working it loose until it flakes off. You may even see the tracery of the paths the insects followed in the wood after the bark falls away. Larger animals can also damage the bark. Squirrels, for example, will peel off bark to eat the nutrient-rich cambium layer beneath during a hard winter, and deer will chew on bark or rub their antlers on trees -- both behaviors that lead to damage. Protective tree guards must be placed around susceptible trees to protect them from larger animals.

Contact an arborist right away if you notice bark loss. Often, the problem may be treated only if it is caught before extensive damage occurs. 


12 January 2022

reducing the threat of standing trees around your home

I love and appreciate all of the trees around my home, but I do worry about what will happen during a strong storm. Will I get rudely awakened by by a tree crashing through the roof into my bedroom? Will a tree fall and take down the power lines that my family relies on each day to live our comfortable life? This blog will show you what you need to know before you go cutting down all of the trees on your property to maintain a safe living space and advice for picking and choosing the trees that will remain.