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The landscapers for my townhouse complex hit a saucer magnolia tree on our property with their truck while doing their work. My wife said that the tree was knocked off of its axis and the landscapers were trying to straighten it before they left.

As the president for the HOA, I need to talk to the owner of the landscaping company to get the tree replaced if this damage turns out to be fatal. It's a beautiful tree and also important for our property value.

This tree is located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. The lamppost in the photo is roughly seven feet tall.

magnolia damage

magnolia

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    I also suggest you bring it up with the landscapers preferably via email where you have a record of the conversation letting them know what happened. Just say you don't notice signs of a dying tree for another 4 weeks, would they still accept or compensate after that time? Best to bring it up now, even if you want to wait and see. – going Jul 17 '13 at 1:59
  • Hi DeeDee! I see that you asked this a few years ago. Are you interested in editing in an update? Lots of people would like to know what happened, and we certainly hope everything's okay. Thanks! – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Feb 3 '18 at 21:17
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Diagnosis from a picture is hard but I can make these observations:

  • tree looks healthy with a reasonable branch structure
  • no signs of previous trunk damage
  • good practices have been followed by not letting grass grow up to the trunk
  • it is mulched with a thin layer of pine needles, another good practice
  • it is not staked which is another good practice and indicates it was firmly rooted
  • the way the leaves are hanging indicates it is dry. (Not unusual at this time of year)
  • it is now leaning. I cannot say whether this is new or was existing
  • the bark has been removed or damaged to around half the circumference of the tree

Given what you have told us you can assume some fine feeder roots have been broken. This should not be too critical but the damage to the bark while the tree is dry and stressed could easily cause half the foliage to die back. The bark is somewhat inert cellulose but underneath it is the transport system for nutrients and water in the xylem and phloem tissue. Now that half of it is gone half the amount of water will be arriving at the leaves.

Ambitious gardeners might suggest bridge grafting and this would work if you could find someone who was qualified.

This appears to be a specimen tree in a highly visible location. Only you can decide if you want to try saving it with a grafting job and frequent watering over the next few months or whether other options are available.

A quick survey of your local garden centres and landscapers will tell you if a similarly sized tree is available. Where I live many magnolia species are available as a balled and burlapped specimen in a wire basket at heights up to 8' feet for less than $300 wholesale. Prices in your area may vary.

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It looks bad, but here in east Texas the damndeer (that is one word here) like to rub the velvet from the new antlers on smooth bark trees like magnolias. They have removed as much bark as shown on your tree from a couple trees. I just looked and after about 5 years it is not easy to see where the damage was. I put loose wire fences around the trees to stop the damage. I did nothing to treat the damage. So I think it is likely your tree will survive and heal.

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