The people who lived in my house before me apparently screwed a hook into 2 of my trees. (It looks like they probably had a clothes line between these 2 trees.) The hooks are still there screwed in tightly.

They seem to be 1/2" diameter on the screws. And the tree is humongous, maybe 4.5' diameter and very healthy looking. Nonetheless from what I've heard it's never OK to screw things into a tree. Should I remove these hooks and do something to help the hole heal? If this tree ever fell the wrong way it would demolish my house. It must remain healthy.

  • 1
    If the tree is that dangerous, you are better off having a professional tree service come in every couple of years to watch its health. Just ask them to deal with the hardware while you are there. Jun 23 '20 at 17:52

I would suggest you simply leave the hook in place - its obviously been there for a while and has luckily not caused the tree any problems. If you remove it, that might leave an open wound, and there is nothing you can use to fill the hole, or use to paint over it to prevent infection. Old fashioned tree wound paints have been shown to increase the risk of disease rather than decrease it.

  • 10
    To Bamboo's point, you also don't know how long the screws are. At a half-inch diameter, you could be looking at a 4 inch long screw, which would be in the heartwood. This won't be an issue with the screw in place, but if you remove it rot and insects would have free passage directly to the "meat" of the tree. Trees are very resilient and this one will eventually cover the screw with bark. My grandfather once filled a tree cavity with concrete; the tree lived for 40+ years-long enough for everyone to forget about it. Until an uncle hit the concrete with a chainsaw when removing the tree. Ouch.
    – Jurp
    Jun 22 '20 at 12:50
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    That is the reason why sawmills are very reluctant to buy wood from felled trees, unless it has some exceptional properties. Hitting a piece of metal with something like this is not fun. (And that is only the small blade for that machine)
    – alephzero
    Jun 22 '20 at 15:47
  • 1
    @alephzero you forgot the picture
    – user253751
    Jun 23 '20 at 12:15
  • +1 There are a few trees in my yard that have grown around a chain link fence. A hook is nothing to a tree. Sometimes wires are installed with screws to stop a tree from splitting. Nothing to worry about.
    – JimmyJames
    Jun 23 '20 at 16:13

It's actually quite OK to screw something to a tree or to make a hole (usually done to harvest sap, for example of pine trees or birch trees, which was done for centuries in my country).

It's actually much better than wind metal wire aroud the trunk as I've often seen, because the living part of the tree is a quite thin layer under the bark. Winding wires around can kill the tree whereas digging a small hole, even through the whole trunk, does not. I've even seen some "professional" ways of making cabins in trees that use the technic of placing cables through the trunk.

The traditional way to close a harvest hole is to use a small piece of branch, preferably from the tree itself, roughly carve it until it fits the hole and drive it in with a wooden hammer (or a bigger branch). You can cut the branch close to the trunk, but leave a bit of excess, like 0.5 / 1cm.

It should be enough, but usually it's recommended to coat this with either clay, or natural tree resin (warm it to make it melt, quite simple, but don't burn yourself). Then let the tree heal itself with time.

You can also leave the hook in place as others suggested, but it will heal around it and this will result in a much bigger scar.


I have found that a good way to fully fill a hole in a tree is to use the orange colored expanding spray foam filler used for construction/filling holes. It completely expands to fill every spot inside. The chemicals may kill any bacteria and fungus present (not 100% sure). I then painted just the foam itself heavily. It will degrade from the sun's UV. It keeps out animals and insects. The trees seemed healthier afterwards.

But I have never dealt with a hole that small. Different trees will probably react differently to removal. Some worse for the hole left behind, some better. Different wood types are extremely variable. I had a remodeling business, so I worked with many types of wood. Some types split along the grain badly. Others don't at all. Good Luck!


Go ahead and remove the screws. Clean the area around the hole if needed with a clean sharp knife. Don't use wound dressings (materials such as tar or paint)they can stop the tree from drying out the wound and give infections a food source. Instead water and fertilize the tree, keep it pruned (pruning is a skill that takes a little reading or instruction) and the tree will quickly heal.

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