SUN SCALD: What you need to know to protect your trees and bushes

How Sun Scald Affects Landscape

It takes a lot of time, money and effort to keep your landscape looking its best. However, natural elements like sun, wind, temperature and precipitation can cause permanent damage to trees. Sun scald is an affliction that can greatly change the appearance of beautiful landscape. Serious landscapers should know how to recognize this damage and prevent it from occurring in the future.

What is Sun Scald?

Tree bark cells go dormant right before winter as temperatures decrease. However, these cells can be awakened by extremely warmer temperatures. Since the reactivated cells cannot return to hibernation once stimulated, lowering nighttime temperatures cause permanent damage or sun scald. This is generally a result of direct sunlight or reflection of light off nearby snow, walls, fences, buildings or other structures.

How To Recognize Sun Scald Damage

This often happens to the west or south sides of young trees with thin bark. Signs of sun scald include dead or sunken bark, missing bark leaving exposed tree fibers, decay, fungus or insect infestation. Bark may also appear discolored, peeled, split or loosened from the tree. Affected areas also become susceptible to various tree diseases. These signs may not appear right after winter. It may take a year or more for these defects to surface.

Prevention Methods

Also known as southwest injury, this natural affliction can be prevented by either decreasing or completely blocking the light intensity. This can be accomplished by placing protective boards around young trees or planting large foliage nearby for shade. Trees can also be wrapped with a protective covering like white tree paper or tree crepe paper wrap once they become dormant. However, the wrap must be removed in the spring so the trees can continue to grow naturally and not become stunted. This method will only need to be used for two to three years. Bark on the tree will thicken and not require this protection.

Sun scald is a natural element that can quickly turn gorgeous landscapes into damaged eyesores. Trees that have been slightly affected often heal in time, but others suffering deeper damage may not recover to their original state or even die. Simple precautions can be taken to prevent this from happening and spending large amounts to replace the affected trees.

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