How to save a tree after deer damage

Asked September 12, 2020, 1:44 PM EDT

The bark on a flowering crab in the front yard was damaged by deer rubbing. Never happened before. About 3 inch diameter trunk. Don’t know if this one incident will kill the tree. Any TLC advice would help. I’ll put protection around to make sure another incident won’t occur.

Hennepin County Minnesota

1 Response

Your tree's survival really depends on whether the damage to the bark goes all the way around the trunk. If the bark was removed all the way around this is called girdling and will eventually kill the tree, since the tree now has no way to get nutrients past that spot in the tree.

If the bark that's been removed is only about 25% around, you really don't need to do anything. If it's more than that, say 25-50% the way around, you will notice the tree struggling, but you can help it with it's healing. Clean the area to remove pathogens (water with mild soap) and then carefully cut back any ragged edges.

While the tree is healing, monitor it carefully to reduce stress. So watering regularly and mulching around the tree will help with moisture retention and provide nutrients.