Trees can sustain damage from many different sources. Wind and storm damage, extreme temperatures, ice, even animals like rodents and deer can cause damage that can threaten the health of your trees. Once bark or limbs are cracked, insects and diseases can attack the tree, further weakening cell structures. Though tree wrap can offer some protection against these forces, its use long-term is not recommended.
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What is Tree Wrap?
Tree wrap is material that is a commercially available product for wrapping trees to protect them against certain destructive forces. Newly planted trees are often wrapped because their bark is very tender and can be easily damaged by wind, sun and ice. In the past, tree wraps were used extensively on damaged trees to attempt to protect them from further damage, but wrapping is no longer recommended in most circumstances.
Types of Tree Wrap
Tree wrap is available in a number of different forms for different uses. A crepe-type wrap is often used to protect new plantings. Plastic wraps are also available. Burlap is sometimes used to protect bark. Hardware cloth (metal mesh) is wrapped around trees to stop damage from deer and rodents. Even plain, light-colored cloth can be used as a tree wrap to protect young trees against sun scald. Tar-impregnated paper tree wrap can be used which will prevent insects and diseases from taking hold.
Tree Wrap Uses
Colorado State University Extension recommends wrapping trees with thin bark during the winter months to protect against sun scald. Sun scald usually occurs on the south or west side of young trees that have not yet developed enough bark protection. The hot daytime sun heats the bark, causing the cambium layer to be vulnerable during cooler night temperatures. Hardware cloth can be used to prevent nibbling from rodents, rabbits and deer.
Disadvantages of Tree Wrap
Tree wrap should not be left on indefinitely. Boring insects will burrow under the wrap where it is warm and dry and set up colonies. Tree wrap can also provide favorable conditions for fungi and bacteria to grow. Many agricultural extension sites recommend wrapping fragile trees in late autumn to protect them and removing the wrap in early spring before insects and diseases can get a foothold under the wrap. Burlap wraps can rot and be a breeding ground for fungus. Also, leaving tree wrap can girdle the tree, constricting its normal growth.
Best Method for Using Tree Wrap
Use tree wrap only for short periods and only when necessary to protect tender tree bark. Start the wrap an inch or two below soil level and wrap around the trunk in a diagonal pattern to the second branch. Cut the wrap and secure with a natural fiber twine. Remove after a few months or up to one year.