Why Is My Tree Bark Splitting in Grand Rapids, MI?

Tree Splitting Image

If a tree on your property has a noticeable bark crack or split, it's a major cause for concern. These fissures are a clear sign something is wrong with the tree. If you experience this problem, you may ask "Why is my tree bark splitting, and can I do anything about it?"

You'll likely need help from a professional tree service in Grand Rapids, MI, to diagnose and treat tree bark health issues. We at Monster Tree Service of Grand Rapids have years of experience addressing tree bark splits. Consult the guide below to learn more.

Top Tree Bark Cracking Reasons

People often confuse bark fissures with ring-barking, but they're not the same. The causes of tree bark splitting vary, but they generally include the following. 


Sunscald is a common problem for younger trees with thin bark. During the winter, the sun on warm days heats the bark's surface on its south or southwest side. However, the bark quickly freezes at night when the temperature drops. 

The constant warming and freezing causes the thin tree's tissues to contract and expand, leading to internal cracks. Unfortunately, it can take one or more seasons for tree bark fissures to form. 

Tree Species

Some trees are naturally vulnerable to splits:

  • Fruit trees

  • Kwanzan cherry trees

  • Tulip trees

  • Sycamores

  • Maple trees

These trees tend to have thin bark regardless of maturity, which makes them susceptible to sun scald or frost cracks. 

Why Tree Bark Fissures Are Harmful

Knowing the answer to "Why is my tree bark splitting?" also means understanding tree bark damage's effect on the plant's overall health. Pests are the biggest problem. When trees crack, they create a wound that attracts disease-harboring insects.

Though some pests will eat the tree and worsen the damage, others will nest inside the crack. Unfortunately, the nesting can introduce bacteria and fungi that can further hurt the tree.  

How to Address Bark Splitting in Trees

Preventing sun scald is incredibly difficult. Some property owners try to insulate their plants with reflective paper in the late fall. However, this isn't a fail proof method to avoid bark splitting. 

Instead, use a sharp knife to clean the wound's edges with the "tracing" method. The fresh, strategic cuts will help the tree callus its wound.

Pick a spot on either end of the split and use your knife to trace or cut around one side of the wound about one-half inch from the bark split. Repeat on the other side. Ensure knife sterilization between cuts by rinsing it with a 70% alcohol solution to prevent contaminating the fresh cuts. 

Trust Monster Tree Service of Grand Rapids to Keep Your Trees Healthy

With our tree care knowledge, Monster Tree Service of Grand Rapids can help you answer "Why is my tree bark splitting?" Our professional, fully insured tree specialists have years of experience providing high-quality tree care services throughout Grand Rapids, Michigan and the surrounding communities.

If you notice dead tree signs, want a health evaluation for your trees, or need to schedule corrective pruning, call us at (616) 681-4107 to request a free estimate.