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Martin, Electrical Engineer
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 4956
Experience:  Design, construct, fix and grow stuff around and in the home.
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We have a 2 year old kousa dogwood. We lost the first kousa

Customer Question

We have a 2 year old kousa dogwood. We lost the first kousa because it was planted with wire around the root ball. The second tree went in Summer 2016, and we were religious about doing exactly what the nursery told us and followed their written instructions. This year, the tree has grown a lot - taller - but we're had a LOT of rain. In addition a drip irrigation line was wrapped around the base. The leaves are yellowish, and I was told the tree was getting too much water, but would be okay. We removed the portion of the drip line around the tree. But now, another "expert" tells me that she noticed excessive peeling bark, including a large piece around the back of the base. She said this is a bad sign and to cut back watering to once a week, but was not encouraging about the tree surviving. I'm heartbroken. Is there anything we can put on the bare area (there is other peeling higher up, but I read this is normal on kousas). But I'm worried we've rotted the roots or something dire like that. Can we put tar or paint or ANYTHING on that spot? It doesn't not appear to have been chewed by any critters, and is not any deeper than the outer layer. I'm so hoping we can save this tree. Though the leaves are pale, there are a lot of them and they seem strong, Can you help?
JA: What kind of climate are you in?
Customer: We live in greater Boston. This summer has not been terribly hot, but it's been very rainy and humid.
JA: Do you plan on doing the work yourself?
Customer: We'll do whatever will save the tree, even if it means hiring an arborist.
JA: Anything else we should know to help you best?
Customer: I can't think of anything, except, if the tree makes it, is it old enough to survive without watering, unless the weather is particularly dry.
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Home Improvement
Expert:  Martin replied 2 months ago.

Hi. It look like the tree suffered from root rot by too much water (there is never really too much water but too much standing water in the soil from poor drainage cause anaerobic bacteria). This may have climbed into the trunk a bit or it may have developed there from the start if you used mulch to close to the trunk or if you have other plant at the base.

The tree might recover but nothing is sure. Cut on the water for a while and do not fertilize until you really see the tree come back for good (trees in remission will not use it and it will stand there and burn the roots in no time).

Do not put anything on the exposed area, let them dry. The tree will grow over those wound over time.