How to Repair a Damaged Tree Trunk

By Tree Expert Codey Stout
Published On

Tree trunks are an important part of the overall look of your home. Because they play such an integral role, you want them to be aesthetically pleasing. When they get damaged, it’s usually a problem, as unsightly marks from pruning can mar their appearance. But don’t worry, there’s a way to repair a damaged tree trunk without having to repaint the entire tree. And it requires very minimal effort, so it won’t take much time at all.

If you have a tree on your property that has been damaged, it is important to take steps to repair it as soon as possible. Damaged tree trunks can lead to serious problems for the tree, including death. In this guide, we will discuss the steps that you need to take to repair a damaged tree trunk.

What are tree trunks?

Tree trunks look a lot like the rest of the tree but are actually only partially a part of it. They are made up of the surrounding bark and inner tissue, which is similar to the roots and soil of a tree that runs underground.

While it can be easy for you to tell when the leaves or bark on your tree has been damaged, if your tree trunk is damaged it might not be as easy to recognize unless you have experience of knowing what to look for in a tree trunk.

If you are able to identify how much damage has been inflicted on your tree, it will then be easier for you to take the necessary steps to repair the damaged tree trunk.

How to tell if your tree trunk has been damaged

Trees in your yard can provide a place for you and your family to enjoy the fresh air. Proper care and maintenance can prolong the life of your trees, but sometimes something happens whether it is from disease or environmental stress that causes trees to exhibit signs of damage or die back to their trunks.

Unfortunately, sometimes these problems are irreversible and it is necessary for the tree to be removed. If you have a damaged tree trunk, you will have to decide if removing the trunk is worth saving the tree or if the problem is so severe that it is just not worth saving.

However, you can easily tell if your tree trunk is damaged if you see the following:

  • If the bark is missing or there are any holes in it, your tree trunk has been damaged.
  • The wood might be cracked, gouged, or split, and if so, this is also an indication of damage.
  • Any decay in the tree trunk is a sign that it has been damaged at some point.

Causes of tree trunk damage

There are many reasons why a tree’s trunk may become damaged. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Storm damage: Trees can be severely damaged in high winds, often leading to broken branches and cracked or split trunks.
  • Animal damage: Deer, rabbits, gophers, and other animals can cause serious damage to trees by chewing on bark and gnawing away at the wood.
  • Disease: Many diseases can affect a tree’s trunk, causing lesions, cracks, or rot.
  • Insect infestation: Wood-boring insects such as termites or carpenter ants can seriously damage a tree’s trunk over time.

Why should you repair a damaged tree trunk?

There are several reasons why you should repair a damaged tree trunk.

Improves appearance

When you repair a damaged tree trunk, you are improving the appearance of your tree. This is because damaged trunks can be unsightly and make your tree look unkempt.

Maintains structural integrity

Another reason why you should repair a damaged tree trunk is to maintain the structural integrity of your tree. This is because a damaged trunk can cause the rest of the tree to become unstable and weak.

Prevents further damage

Repairing a damaged tree trunk can also prevent further damage from occurring. This is because if the damage is not repaired, it can spread and affect other parts of the tree.

Extends the life of the tree

Lastly, repairing a damaged tree trunk can extend the life of your tree. This is because it will help to keep the tree healthy and strong.

How to repair a damaged tree trunk?

Now that we have discussed some reasons why you should repair a damaged tree trunk, let’s talk about how you can do it.


If the damage to your tree trunk is only superficial and limited to the bark, then you can repair it by pruning. Pruning is the process of removing dead or damaged branches from a tree.

When you prune a tree, you are essentially removing any part of the tree that is no longer serving a purpose. This includes branches that are broken, diseased, or insect-infested.

Pruning should be done in late winter or early spring when the trees are still dormant.

To repair a damaged tree trunk with pruning, follow these steps:

  • Step One: Remove any dead or damaged branches from the tree using sharp shears. Be careful not to cut into healthy tissue, as this could damage the tree further.
  • Step Two: Cut branches back to where they intersect with a larger branch or the trunk. Make sure to make your cuts at a 45-degree angle so that rainwater can run off of them easily.
  • Step Three: Prune any branches that are rubbing against each other as this can damage the bark and cause wounds.

Cabling and Bracing

If the damage to your tree trunk is more severe, you might need to use cabling and bracing in order to repair it. Cabling and bracing is a method of supporting a tree using cables and brackets.

This method is often used for trees that have weak trunks or forks in their trunks. It is also used for trees that are growing in an area where they might be susceptible to high winds.

To repair a damaged tree trunk with cabling and bracing, follow these steps:

  • Step One: Call a certified arborist to assess the damage to your tree and determine if cabling and bracing are necessary.
  • Step Two: If cabling and bracing are determined to be necessary, the arborist will install cables and brackets into the tree.
  • Step Three: The arborist will then tighten the cables so that they are snug but not too tight. This will help to support the weight of the tree and prevent further damage from occurring.

Wrap up

This is another great method to repair your damaged tree trunk. Mild damage can often be fixed with a trunk wrap or some other treatment.

You can do this by wrapping the tree trunk with a protective material such as a burlap or cloth.

This will help to protect the tree from further damage and also keep it insulated during the winter months.

To repair a damaged tree trunk with wrapping, follow these steps:

  • Step One: Cut a piece of burlap or cloth that is big enough to wrap around the entire trunk of the tree.
  • Step Two: Wrap the burlap or cloth tightly around the tree trunk. Make sure to secure it in place with tape or wire.
  • Step Three: Leave the wrap in place for one year. Be sure to check on it periodically and re-wrap it if needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I seal a tree wound?

It is not necessary to seal a tree wound. The tree will close the wound itself over time.

What should I use to seal a tree wound?

You can use either a commercial tree sealant or some type of latex paint.

How often do I need to seal a tree wound?

Sealing a tree wound is only necessary if you notice moisture building up inside the bark or the sap oozing from the injury site. Otherwise, sealing it is not necessary and may actually hinder healing.

When is the best time to repair a damaged tree trunk?

The best time to repair a damaged tree trunk is during late winter/early spring before new growth begins. This way, you won’t injure the tender new growth with your repairs.

What kind of adhesive should I use to repair a tree trunk?

You can use either carpenter’s glue or silicone sealant. Just make sure the adhesive you choose is compatible with the material of the tree trunk.

Is it necessary to remove bark before repairing a tree trunk?

No, it is not necessary to remove bark before repairing a tree trunk. In fact, doing so could damage the tree and slow healing. You can simply drill pilot holes and fasten the boards in place using screws or nails. Make sure the fasteners are rust-proof.

Will damaged tree bark grow back?

If you have a healthy tree, the bark will grow back over time. However, if the tree is damaged or diseased, the bark might not grow back. In that case, you would need to remove and replace the damaged bark.


Repairing a damaged tree trunk is an important task that should not be ignored. By following the steps listed above, you can repair your tree trunk and help to keep it healthy and strong. If you have any further questions, be sure to consult with a certified arborist.

Meet Your Tree Expert

Codey Stout

Codey Stout is the operations manager for Tree Triage and has years of experience removing trees. His expertise has been featured in publications like Yahoo, The Family Handyman, Homes & Gardens, and many more. The only thing Codey likes doing more than removing intrusive trees, is removing unsightly stumps.
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