How to Remove Graffiti From Trees

Lauren Wise

Graffiti is a part of society that must be dealt with when applied in the wrong places, such as the trees in your yard. The graffiti paint will naturally fade over time, but if you want the remove the paint immediately, you have to take action.

There are several methods you can try to remove the graffiti from the trees on your property. If one doesn't work, simply try the next one, starting with simplest. Methods range from using a pressure washer or sandpaper, to caking the graffiti with mud, which in turn will naturally dye the paint and fade it over time.

How to Remove Graffiti From Trees

  1. Visit your local paint or hardware store first and see if they have paint remover for trees, such as the agent GraffitiRemover. Some stores carry it, but it can only be used on larger trees that will not be affected by the chemicals. If you decide to use an agent to remove the graffiti, read and carefully follow the instructions to avoid damaging your tree.

  2. Use a pressure washer on low pressure and aim it at the graffiti painted part of the tree. You should only do this if the tree is large, with a diameter of at least seven feet and has thick bark, since the pressure washer will remove one to two layers of the tree's bark. For certain tree species you should not use the pressure cleaner because the bark is too light and thin. These include sycamore, birch, hickory, types of maple and oak trees. Trees that have much thicker bark that can endure a pressure cleaner include white ash, cottonwood, chestnut oak, black walnut and locust, basswood and hornbeam.

  3. Use a putty knife to peel off some parts of the painted bark, chipping away a little at a time. Or use 400-grit sandpaper to sand off the graffiti marks from the tree's bark. Try to rub the sandpaper in smooth circular motions to make it easier for you to rub off the paint, as well as make the tree's trunk still appear normal. These two methods will remove the bark but keep in mind that it will grow back, and it isn't damaging the tree.

  4. Try this well-known method from Tree Specialists, Inc. if the previous methods are ineffective. Use a putty knife to remove large chunks of paint and chip off pieces of bark that are coated in paint. Try to get in the crevices to remove as much dried paint as you can.

  5. Put on gloves. Fill a bucket with a couple inches of thick soil, then add small parts of water until you have created a sticky mud base.

  6. Use your hands to apply this mud base firmly over the graffiti painted area. You are trying to create a paste to cover it up. The natural colors from the drying mud and water will color the paint. Once rain washes away the mud, it will also wash away some of the paint as well. Also, it disguises the paint until it naturally fades away.

  7. Tip

    You can choose also to paint over the tree with sealant paint, but this risks injuring the tree and putting chemicals into its system. It will take a long time to fade and will eventually leave a black mark on the tree.