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Dallas Morning News - October 24, 2019

Natural Tree Care – Part 2


I usually do not use pruning paint of any kind on my trees. Research by Dr. Alex Shigo, Dr. Carl Whitcomb, the U.S. Forest Service, and me, has shown that pruning paint and wound dressings give little help can be actually be harmful to the pruning cuts by slowing the healing process. Healthy tissue needed for the callus formation around the cuts can be damaged or killed by being covered up with stuff that homeowners might think helps.


A proper cut, beautifully made

Cut healing naturally with no pruning paint

Perfect healing pruning cut


Air is important to the wounds. Trees have defense cells, much like white blood cells in animals. Lignin cells are produced on the backside of wounds to naturally prevent diseases from entering fresh cuts. Just as a cut finger heals faster when exposed to the air, so do tree wounds.


Some of my friends in the business think that wound dressing can help with disease prevention so if you decide to treat, I have two suggestions. The best commercial product is Lac Balsam, also known as artificial bark. It was developed by horticulturists in Europe for use in grafting and wound sealing. It's the best in its category because it provides protection against insect and disease organisms and it breathes better than paints and tars and other wound dressings.



Here's a mail order company that sells it.


Second option is Tree Trunk Goop. It’s a home made formula I invented to treat any damage to woody trunks and limbs. Not available commercially, unfortunately, but here’s the formula. Mix equal amounts of natural untreated diatomaceous earth, soft rock phosphate and compost together. Add enough water to make a thick slurry. Slather this wet mix onto scrapes, cuts, borer holes, ripped places or other injuries on trunks or limbs. Reapply if washed off by rain or irrigation. In the soil, the mix makes good organic fertilizer. Fireplace ashes can be used if soft rock phosphate isn’t available. An easier formula that might be even better is to mix earthworm castings and Azomite together 50/50.


Animal damage on a young maple


Tree trunk goop used on animal damage


Minor wounds going only partially around the trunk heal easily with these procedures. Trees totally girdled are much more difficult to save. Listeners and readers have reported being successful however and have sent photos proving it. I didn't think it was possible before, but now I do. For total girdling, burlap needs to be soaked in the Tree Trunk Goop and then wrapped all the way around the damaged trunk. Tin foil and/or plastic can be wrapped around the burlap to help hold the moisture in the mixture. An arborist friend of mine in San Antonio uses roofing felt instead of burlap and reports impressive success.




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