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How to Heal a Wounded Birch Tree

By Elizabeth Knoll ; Updated September 21, 2017
A birch tree trunk.

Birch trees, members of the Betula family, are prized for their unique bark and graceful foliage. Desired for their ornamental value, birch trees are often difficult to maintain. It is not unusual for a birch tree to die before reaching 20 years of age. Insects are the main reason for the tree's decline, but birch trees also are susceptible to trunk wounds. These wounds allow diseases easy entry into the tree. To heal a wounded birch tree, address the wound and fertilize to encourage new growth.

Press the bark back on to the trunk if the wound is fresh and still moist. Fit pieces back into their original positions and secure the bark pieces in place with soft cloth straps tied around the tree. Leave the straps until the wound is healed.

Break away loose bark from around older wounds. Take a sharp knife and cut the bark around the wound away until you notice healthy bark. Shape the wound into an ellipse if possible and ensure there is a well-defined edge between the wound and the bark of the tree.

Apply 5-10-5 fertilizer at a rate of 2 lbs. per inch of trunk diameter. Measure the trunk diameter 3 feet from the ground and use this figure when determining how much fertlizer to use. Use a broadcast spreader to spread the fertilizer and spread it over the feeder roots, which extend 2 feet from the trunk to several feet beyond the edge of the canopy.

Water the fertilizer into the soil. Water until the soil is moist.

Remove any grass or weeds in a circle from the trunk to the edge of the birch tree's canopy. Replace with 2 to 3 inches of mulch. By doing this, you will reduce the tree's competition for nutrients and water. A healthier tree will result.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Pocket knife
  • Cloth straps
  • 5-10-5 fertilizer
  • Broadcast spreader
  • Mulch
  • Lawn sprinkler
  • Garden hose

Tip

  • Water the birch tree at a rate of 1 inch of water per week. The inch of water should be applied over the entire root system, which spans from the trunk to a few feet beyond the canopy edge. Drought stress can aggravate minor conditions and possibly turn them into major conditions.

Warning

  • A lawn mower or weed eater can severely damage a birch tree. Do not allow the trunk to be damaged by either device. Always trim grass by hand around tree trunks.