Can You Stop A Tree Trunk From Rotting At The Base?

Is there a way to stop a tree trunk from rotting at the base? The truth is, it can be heart-breaking to discover you have a tree that has contracted rot.

It is only natural to want to do everything you can do to save the tree, which represents a significant investment of time and money. As well, removing a tree that has become an integral part of the local landscape or your home’s curb appeal can leave a gaping hole that is hard to fill.

In this article, learn what your options are for tree servicing when your tree has become impacted by rot at the base.

How Bad is the Tree Rot?

The first crucial question you need to answer is about the severity of the tree rot. Unless you have experience as an arborist, you may think that dealing with tree rot is as simple as dealing with fruit rot – just cut out the bad spot and all will be well again.

Unfortunately, tree rot is often a lot more complicated than that brown spot on your summer peach. Visible tree rot may represent the tip of an iceberg that extends down into the roots and up into the branches. But you may not know this until after you try to cut out the rot and see what happens next.

So if you do decide to cut out the visible rot, you need to decide whether that leaves enough substance at the tree base to guard against the tree falling over the next time a storm blows through.

How Old Is the Tree?

On that topic, the age of the tree as well as the tree species can impact whether it makes good sense to try to save the tree.

Different tree species have different average lifespans. When a tree nears the end of its average lifespan, wood decay can develop on a systemic level.

In old trees, wood decay starts in the interior and spreads to the outside. So by the time you see signs of rot, the entire tree has become compromised.

If the affected tree is large, old and near the end of its typical species lifespan, trying to save the tree may not be a viable proposition.

How Much of the Trunk Is Affected by Rot?

Tree wounds happen in all kinds of ways. Wildlife, storms, pests and invading fungus can all cause damage to the tree’s outer protective layer.

As a general rule of thumb, if the tree is otherwise healthy and still has a few good years left before old age, and if less than one-quarter of the outer surface is damaged, the tree can have a good chance of recovering from a case of rot.

The location of the wound also matters. Tree rot at the base of the tree is potentially more dangerous than tree rot that occurs higher up. Here, a shorter, thicker tree is more likely to survive tree rot at the base.

Can You Keep Moisture Out?

In some cases, it may be possible to cut out the rot and use tree paint to seal the wound. If you take this route, it is vital to keep moisture away from the wound or additional rot may form.