The Q&A Archives: Here's a funny one for you. Painted Maple Tree

Question: Hello: Here's a good one for you: My 8 year old daughter and her friend painted the trunk of my beautiful 50' maple tree. The can has no label, so I don't know if it's latex or oil based paint. The trunk (approx. 2 feet in diameter) is painted on one whole side from the ground up about 5 feet. Will this kill my tree? Any idea how to remove the paint if ends up being oil-based? Thank you!

Answer: Believe it or not, this practice is more common than you might think. It isn't anything I would encourage, and it doesn't look all that great, but it shouldn't harm your tree, regardless of whether the paint is latex or oil based. If the paint is fresh and it is latex based, you might be able to hose it off with a strong stream of water. If you determine it is latex, sometimes spraying with diluted Simple Green and then hosing it down will remove most of the paint. Simple Green is biodegradable and shouldn't hurt the tree or surrounding plants or lawn. If the paint is oil based, it is best left alone. It will eventually weather away. In the meantime, your daughter will have a constant reminder of her deed. Who knows, it may be the source of a precious memory to your family as your daughter reaches adulthood.

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