Why People Paint the Bottoms of Trees White? Solved!

2 min


While bright orange or red tree markings may indicate that a tree is about to be removed, white paint on trees indicates something entirely different. So, why are trees painted white? Although the crisp, bright white looks nice, the paint isn’t for looks. White paint is applied to the trunks of trees throughout town to protect them from the elements. And that’s important because trees make the landscape look nice and provide shade for homes and outdoor living spaces in the summer.

White paint on trees, like plastic, paper, or aluminum tree guards, provides protection from the sun, harsh weather, and pests. Continue reading to find out why people paint the bottoms of trees white and why choosing the right paint is important.

Painting the bark of young trees helps keep them from getting sunscald

Plant life, like humans, is susceptible to sun damage. During the winter, deciduous trees, which shed their leaves at the end of the growing season, are especially vulnerable to sunscald. The branches without leaves provide no protection from the sun’s hot rays. In areas with extremely hot climates, trees may be susceptible to sunscald all year.

The white paint on the trunks helps to reflect sunlight and protects the tree’s bark from overexposure. In the winter, an excess of sunlight can cause the thawing of critical tissues beneath the bark. When temperatures drop, they can refreeze, resulting in trunk cracks and fissures. Pests and diseases can easily enter through these wounds.


Thick latex paint can protect trees from the elements

Damage from sudden thaws and freezes can leave trees, particularly fruit-bearing trees, vulnerable. In severe cases, the damage can be fatal. Heavy latex paint (or a specially designed formula like this highly rated option available on Amazon) applied to a tree trunk can help protect it from harsh winter weather.

Whitewashing tree trunks is a common tree maintenance task, but the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service advises using interior-grade latex paint instead of toxic oil-based paints. It’s also best to use tree trunk painting on trees that are at least two years old. Instead of painting, use plastic or aluminum guards on younger trees.

The best time to paint bark on trees is at the end of fall on a sunny day to allow for proper drying. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of water before applying it. If the first coat seems too thin, apply a second coat. Paint can be applied with brushes, sponges, or cloth rags. You can also spray paint a tree white, but it will most likely require two coats.


Painting the trunks of trees also deters pest infestations

Painting a tree trunk white prevents pests from entering through various small openings. Using white paint to protect trees from sunscald also prevents these cracks from forming in the first place.

Make sure to paint up to 18 inches above the ground when painting a tree trunk white. For added protection, paint up to the point where the first major branches join the trunk. It is critical to completely cover the trunk when painting. Any bare spots could be entry points for hungry pests.

Latex paint is ideal because it does not crack when it expands, leaving your tree vulnerable to pest infestations. Reapply whitewash annually to ensure long-term protection.


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