Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - November 21, 2009

From: Roswell, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Trees
Title: Treating cuts in tree trunks
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We have two young trees that deer made bad cuts in the trunks. What can we put on cuts to keep bugs and disease from getting in them.? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Treating cuts and wounds in trees by applying wound dressing is a controversial subject. We in Texas with a high incidence of oak wilt disease, a fungal (Ceratocystis fagacearum) disease carried by nitidulid beetles, are urged to paint all wounds on oak trees to prevent infection; however, there are many horticulturists (e.g., Chalker-Scott from Washington State University and the Master Gardeners Program from Penn State Cooperative Extension) who say that painting wounds may be more harmful than helpful by trapping moisture and encouraging rot and fungal growth. Your own University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service recommends NOT using wound paint after tree pruning since it is likely to disrupt the tree's natural ability to compartmentalize the wound area and seal it off.  They recommend, instead, that you minimize mechanical damage to the tree.  With that in mind, Mr. Smarty Plants suggests that you put up a physical barrier to protect your tree trunks from deer antler damage.  Here are some commercial products that will do the job and also suggestions for making your own.

Sentree Treeguard

Wraparound plastic tree guards

Corrugated plastic tree guards

Miracle Tubes

You can also make your own using heavy duty plastic mesh or metal wire (chicken wire or hardware cloth) from the hardware store. You will need to check frequently to be sure the guard hasn't become tight around the tree as the trunk expands. Also, you should be sure the guards offer plenty of ventilation so that moisture doesn't build up between the guard and the trunk or so that the guard doesn't provide a area for insects to collect.  Here is an article from University of New Hampshire, "Tree Guards for Tree and Shrub Protection" with instructions for making tree guards.  Their guards are geared towards smaller animal (rodents and rabbits) damage, but the height of the guard could be increased for deer. 

Another option is to build a small diameter (2-3 feet) fence around each tree using metal fence stakes and wire mesh. How practical this option is probably depends on how many trees you need to protect.

 

More Trees Questions

Evergreen oak in Washington
February 17, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in the Pacific Northwest and noticed an oak tree growing near the road that was evergreen (unusual for here). I was so curious that that last time that I passed the tree,...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for clay soil in Lathrop MO
March 21, 2011 - My family just moved to the north Kansas City, MO area and would like to know what native species, both perennial and tree, will do best in the clay soil. It has already proven problematic as we have ...
view the full question and answer

Probably non-native crapemyrtle trees damaged by hurricane
January 15, 2009 - I have 5 crape myrtle trees. I live in Galveston, Tx and when Hurricane Ike came through in September the salt water I think killed them. They have not come back since then and are brown with no leave...
view the full question and answer

Control of live oak suckers by cutting
July 23, 2007 - How do I control the Live Oak root suckers? At the moment we are cutting them as they come out of the ground.
view the full question and answer

Why will my Butternut trees not produce nuts in Tennessee?
May 06, 2009 - I have 2 butternut trees planted about 20 ft from each other. I see the long blossoms on each tree but I have not gotten any nuts from either tree. I do not know if I have a male and female or if th...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.