(Photo: Flickr/Martin Pettitt)
Q: I have a large oak tree that has a decayed hole at the bottom, which is home to a copperhead snake. Is it safe to fill the hole in with concrete? I have heard pros and cons about this. How should I treat that decayed hole? (I also have jasmine planted at bottom of tree. Should I pull it up?)
A: Don't fill the cavity. Research has shown that it does more harm than good. The concrete actually holds a slight amount of moisture between it and the inside of the tree and actually increases the rate of wood decay. If you are worried about animals (such as the snake) making their homes in there, you can simply block the entry with something such as chicken wire.
As for other landscaping plants (jasmine) causing decay at the base of a tree, I have not heard that before. I suppose it would depend on the density of the foliage of this other plant/shrub and whether or not it is enveloping the cavity on your trunk. If it is very dense and covering the cavity, I could see it as holding in moisture and, yes, possible promoting decay.
-- Answer from W. Sorgen, a tree specialist on JustAnswer.
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