Is this happening to you? There is a surprising way to prevent it and it is FREE!
Young fruit trees need to have their tender cambium layer protected or they risk being girdled. When a tree is girdled it will not ever heal from the damage-causing it to be stunted and more prone to disease. This commonly occurs in winter when food is scarce and animals like rabbits, mice, voles, rats, and even squirrels will chew the tender bark for sustenance. The bark is the most nutritious part of the tree and sadly many gardeners lose their prized fruit trees to this natural food cycle.
How to prevent it?
Prevention is easy! Many hardware stores and landscaping supply companies will sell tree wraps, however, they are expensive and just as effective as a very free and very seasonal item that most people throw out. Gift wrap tubes! Not only are gift wrap tubes cardboard meaning they won't contain harmful polymers that are in the plastic versions, but they will break down in the compost pile once their purpose has been served. This eliminates waste and helps to create organic matter.
Step one: collect cardboard gift wrap tubes
Step two: Cut the cardboard tube into 12-inch sections
Step three: Cut the tube lengthwise to create an opening
Step four: Open the opening and place it around the trunk of any tree and allow it to close around the base of the trunk.
This method can be used during winter and then removed in the spring. Once the tree becomes more than 2-3 inches in diameter the bark will be thick enough and strong enough to prevent animals from chewing at the trunk.
If a tree is girdled is it too late?
Sadly, yes. A tree's bark will regrow, but only if it is not completely removed. The damage of girdling leaves the bark open for boring insects, rot, and fungus to breed on the open heartwood of the tree. Some trees can survive and grow, but the spot will never heal and will permanently be at risk. We recommend if a tree has been girdled severely to remove it and restart with preventative measures in place. If a tree has only been slightly girdled and the damage has not yet been done you may use this method in combination with some tree tar to cover the wound and allow the tree to continue growing. It won't heal in that spot, but the tar will act as a permanent fake bark. Many are available, but a great one is called Tree wound made by tanglefoot but should only be used as a last resort.
Did you find this post helpful? MIgardener is passionate about sharing free gardening tips and information! If you are looking for inspiration in the garden, make sure to check out our Pinterest page. New ideas and inspiration can be found there at any time.
Let us know in the Facebook comments what you would like to hear next from the MIgardener blog! I hope this little introduction sparked some curiosity for you. Check us out at MIgardener.com or on youtube, Instagram, and Facebook.