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  • Callum Ward

Why is the Tree Bark Splitting?


tree bark split

As a tree surgeon business, one of the common concerns we encounter is the issue of tree bark splitting. This phenomenon can be alarming for tree owners and poses questions about the health and longevity of their trees. In this article, we will delve into the various causes of tree bark splitting and offer insights on how to prevent and address this issue.


Understanding Tree Bark Splitting


Tree bark is essential to a tree’s overall health. It acts as a protective layer, shielding the tree from pests, diseases, and environmental stressors. When the bark splits, it can expose the tree to various threats, potentially leading to more severe problems if not addressed promptly.


Causes of Tree Bark Splitting


1. Weather Extremes:

- Frost Cracks: During winter, rapid temperature changes can cause the bark to contract and expand quickly. This often results in vertical splits, known as frost cracks, which are common in species like oaks and maples. The sudden drop in temperature can cause the outer layer of bark to shrink faster than the inner wood, leading to splits.

- Sunscald: In contrast, during hot weather, excessive sun exposure, particularly on the south or southwest sides of trees, can cause the bark to overheat and split. This is more prevalent in young trees or those with thin bark.


2. Growth Factors:

- Rapid Growth: When trees experience a surge in growth, often due to abundant water and nutrients, the bark may not keep up with the expanding trunk and branches, leading to splits. This is typically seen in fast-growing species like willows and poplars.


3. Physical Damage:

- Mechanical Injury: Activities such as construction, landscaping, or even animal damage can physically injure the bark, leading to splits. Lawn mowers and trimmers can also cause significant harm if they come into contact with the tree trunk.

- Pest Infestation: Insects and animals can cause damage to the bark. Borers, for instance, create tunnels under the bark, weakening its structure and making it more susceptible to splitting.


4. Disease and Infection:

- Fungal Infections: Certain fungal infections can compromise the integrity of the bark, leading to splits. These infections often enter through wounds or cracks and can spread, causing further damage.

- Bacterial Cankers: Bacterial infections can cause cankers, which are dead areas on the bark. These cankers can crack and split over time, further weakening the tree.


Preventing and Addressing Tree Bark Splitting


Preventing tree bark splitting involves a combination of proper tree care and protective measures. Here are some strategies to consider:


1. Protect from Extreme Temperatures:

- Wrapping: During winter, consider wrapping young or vulnerable trees with burlap or tree wrap to shield them from frost cracks and sunscald.

- Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the tree to moderate soil temperature and retain moisture.


2. Proper Watering and Feeding:

- Ensure trees receive adequate water, particularly during dry spells. Deep watering is preferable to shallow, frequent watering.

- Avoid excessive fertilisation, as this can promote rapid growth that the bark may not be able to keep up with.


3. Physical Protection:

- Use guards or barriers to protect the tree from mechanical damage caused by lawn equipment or animals.

- Prune correctly and at the right time to minimise the risk of damage and infection.


4. Monitor and Treat Diseases:

- Regularly inspect your trees for signs of disease or pest infestation. Early detection and treatment are crucial.


Tree bark splitting can be a concerning issue, but understanding its causes and taking preventive measures can help maintain the health and beauty of your trees. Regular care, monitoring, and timely intervention are key to preventing and addressing bark splitting. If you notice any signs of tree bark splitting, do not hesitate to contact our team of professional tree surgeons for expert advice and assistance. Your trees are a valuable asset, and with proper care, they can continue to thrive for years to come.

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