Can these trees be saved?

Asked April 22, 2020, 10:52 AM EDT

I purchased home in Jarrettsville last August. I have two trees which cause me concern. The first tree, which I believe may be a silver maple, is vibrant and budding but it has pock marks which look like large bullet holes (photo attached). Can I patch these "sores" or should I try to eliminate the limbs on which they appear? Tree 2 lost its leaves in late August last year and over the winter pileated woodpeckers ravaged the tree. Could I attempt to cut this tree WAY back to save it or is it already dead? Thank you

Harford County Maryland

1 Response

We are not sure what may have caused those pocks but you should leave them alone. Research has shown that trees do better healing themselves and that they don't need us to apply or fill any wounds.
Silver Maples can get burls, but we can't say that is what is happening, you'll just have to wait and see. (More about burls here:
The best way to assess the tree's health is to look at the overall leafy canopy. It should become full with normal sized leaves of good color, without a lot of dead limbs.

The second tree unfortunately look concerning. We would guess from the woodpecker interest and the 'blonding' of the bark that it is a goner, if not now then soon. The signs are highly suggestive that it may be an ash that has been attacked by the invasive Emerald Ash Borer. It kills trees quickly and has been moving throughout Maryland.
See more here:

These dead ash lose structural integrity quickly and should be removed promptly before they become a hazard if it is near people or property.

Here is a page that helps homeowners decide when it may be time to remove a tree: