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Garden Q&A: How to replace a damaged tree leader and send in photos with questions

Attach the new leader for your tree's trunk to the old leader. - Original Credit: For The Baltimore Sun
Attach the new leader for your tree's trunk to the old leader. - Original Credit: For The Baltimore Sun (Handout / HANDOUT)

My tree was fenced from deer and they still reached up and ripped off branches. The tree’s leader now has no bark in places. Do I cut it off or hope for the best? The other branches are fine.

The leader (future trunk) will grow into a weak trunk if it lost too much bark. Select the next lowest strong branch to be a new leader. As in the photo, cut back the old leader so it is shorter than the new leader. The tree will then prioritize putting its energies into the new leader.

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Straighten the new leader as upright as you can without breaking it, attaching it to the old leader. If the old leader was completely snapped off, use a rod. Attach it firmly to the trunk below the new leader, and then attach the new leader to it.

As the new leader becomes dominant, prune down any other upright branches so that the leader is always the tallest point on the tree. In a year or so, prune off the old leader completely.

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A green plant is taking over my garden beds and some of the lawn. A few of my shrubs have disease on the leaves, too. How do I stop these from spreading?

We need more information to identify or diagnose. Photos attached to your question are a great help. For fastest diagnosis or identification, be sure photos are in focus.

A leaf is a primary key for us, followed closely by flowers, then fruit/berries/seeds, stems and bark. Send both close-up photos and one overall plant shot. A wide shot showing the site is helpful, too. If you have more than 3 photos, sending more emails is fine.

Check photos before you send them, please. We once got a request for an identification, and they sent photos of their kids. This week we got a question about leaf spots — with photos of blueberry muffins!

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University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information at extension.umd.edu/hgic. Click “Ask Maryland’s Gardening Experts” to send questions and photos.

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