Girdled Tree Help – Learn How To Fix Girdled Trees

By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener

One of the worst things that can happen to a tree is girdle trunk damage. Not only is this detrimental to the tree but it can also be frustrating to the homeowner. Keep reading to learn more about what is tree girdle and how to get girdled tree help.

What is Tree Girdle?

Tree girdling poses a serious health threat to trees. What is tree girdle? Girdling results when a piece of bark around the circumference of a tree is removed. Because bark is necessary to move nutrients through the tree, it is critical that the girdling problem be fixed immediately. Girdle trunk damage left untended results in slow death.

Most girdling can happen when a weed eater or mower accidentally strikes the trunk or when a stake tie becomes too tight. To avoid mechanical damage, it is a good idea to mulch around trees. Tree girdle also occurs when small rodents chew on the tree bark.

Treatment for a Girdled Tree

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Treatment for a girdled tree includes first aid to clean the wound and keep the wood from drying out. Repair grafting or bridge grafting provides a bridge whereby nutrients can be transported across the tree.

A successful graft results when enough nutrients can be carried over the wound, allowing the roots to survive and continue providing water and minerals to tree tissues and leaves. Leaves will make food that allows the tree to form new tissue. This new growth will form, like a scab, over the wound and allow the tree to survive.

How to Fix Girdled Trees

The key to how to fix girdled trees involves thorough cleaning of the wound. The wound must be cleaned first by removing any bark that has come loose. Remove a few healthy branches or twigs that are a thumb size in diameter and three inches longer than the width of the wound, from the tree.

Mark the top part of each twig. Use a clean and sharp utility knife to trim one side of each end of the twigs so that it will lie flat on the tree trunk. Shape the other ends into a wedge shape. Start at the wound and make two parallel cuts through the bark to form flaps (above and below the wound).

The cuts should be a bit longer than the bridges. Lift the flaps and insert the bridge under the flap. The bark on the bridge pieces should be placed slightly under the flaps, topside up. If the trunk layers and the bridges join, the flow of nutrients will be re-established.

If you need more girdled tree help, you can check with your local Cooperative Extension Office for assistance.

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