Dawn redwood with bark removed.

Asked October 25, 2018, 1:34 PM EDT

We have small dawn redwood tree and I noticed that the bark has been stripped off most of the tree trunk. It didn't fall or shed off because there is very little on the ground. I am not sure what animal did it some friends have mentioned seeing squirrels do this to use the bark for their nests. What our concern is, is the tree going to die and is there anything we can do to help it recover or just to save it?

Oakland County Michigan trees and shrubs sustainable gardening and landscaping vertebrate pest management gardening horticulture

2 Responses

Unfortunately, this is a somewhat common occurrence with dawn redwood trees. Their exfoliating bark makes them an easy target for squirrels to pull off strips of bark for nesting material. This is certainly not ideal for overall tree heath but observed trees seem to be somewhat tolerant to removal of some outer strips of bark. The impact on tree health depends on the depth of bark removed. Managing squirrels is very difficult so focus on minimizing any additional stress to the tree’s health by: 1.) Keeping the tree watered during dry periods, 2.) making sure the tree is mulched with a mulch layer no thicker than 3 inches deep and extends out at least to the tips of the branches for a young tree like yours, and 3.) keeping the mulch away from the base of the trunk a few inches. (It appears that the mulch is currently touching the trunk.) Thank you for using Ask an Expert.

Thank you for the reply. As far as the mulch we don't use mulch we have lived here 12 years and the tree never had mulch around it by us. But we will try everything you said and hopefully it will help.
Paul L. Kerr