I have a weeping hemlock whose trunk is about an inch and a half in diameter....

Asked December 16, 2014, 3:49 PM EST

I have a weeping hemlock whose trunk is about an inch and a half in diameter. A deer seems to have scrapped a large portion of it in an attempt to break it. The superficial damage is over two feet of the trunk. Is there something I can do to help the healing process of the trunk? Earlier a deer (I believe) broke away my hemlock without eating the foliage. Why do they do this?

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

Deer "rub" their antlers on tree bark in late summer/fall to remove the velvet from their new antlers. This can cause a lot of damage. They rub against small tree saplings, multi-trunked shrubs and the lower small limbs of trees--somewhat flexible wood that apparently works best for removing velvet. They are not trying to break the tree.

Once they have scraped off bark, there is nothing you can do to help the trunk heal. Do not use "wound dressing." It slows the healing process. If there are loose dangling shreds of bark, you can clip them off evenly.

The best solution is prevention. For young trees that are likely targets, place wire mesh cage around the trunk (not too tight--you don't want the bark to grow into the wire) or the hard plastic tree wraps that expand as the tree grows.

Here is info on our website from our search box: http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/deer