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13 Things That Can Harm Trees That You Didn’t Know

To make sure that you aren’t accidentally killing your trees, read over this list before you give them care.

1. Staking or Guying a Tree Too Much

Staking/Guying: Using stakes and rope to support a tree

Most trees don’t need support, and if they do, they only need it for a short amount of time. Staking or guying can cause abnormal trunk growth, bark damage, girdling, or cause a tree to become top heavy.


2. Girdling a Tree

You may think that you are doing your tree a favor by wrapping the bottom of it with plastic. The idea behind this is that it will protect the tree from lawn mowers or weed whackers, but it actually suffocates the tree. If your goal is to protect your tree, you would be better off surrounding the tree with mulch which will prevent weeds from growing and help retain moisture.


3.Putting Mulch Too Close To A Tree’s Trunk

Putting mulch too close to the trunk of a tree covers the root flare and causes the tree to suffocate. To prevent this, experts say that you should keep the mulch six inches away from the trunk of a young tree and a foot away from mature tree trunks.


4. Hanging Bird Feeders with Screws or Nails

Anything that penetrates a tree’s bark puts it at risk for disease or insect infestation. It can also damage the cambium, the area beneath the bark where cells rapidly divide and increase the girth of the tree.

Another problem with putting screws or nails in your tree is that the tree will grow around the object. This makes it dangerous to trim or cut down the tree at a later date.


5. Tying Your Dog To A Tree

Tying your dog to a tree may seem harmless, but it actually can really damage the tree’s bark. A dog may jump and tug against the tree causing the bark to fall off. The bark is a tree’s first defense against disease and insects, so ruining this puts it in danger.


6. Pruning Your Tree in the Wrong Season

Pruning your tree in the wrong weather conditions can cause it to be weak and vulnerable. The best time to prune in Minnesota is early spring. Click here to find out why!

Many people think that fall is the best time to prune which is actually incorrect. Your trees focus their energy on their roots during the colder seasons. So, any cuts from pruning won’t heal in time. Find out more information here.


7. Filling Tree Cavities with Concrete

It is a common myth that you should fill a tree cavity to help its structural strength. Tree cavities are best healed by the tree itself.


8. Power Lines

Power companies do not allow trees to touch the power lines. If you have a tree near the power line, the company will force you to trim it or cut it down.


9. Improper Pruning

If you are unsure of how to prune your tree or do not have the correct equipment, contact your local arborist. This is a very important chore and can kill the tree if done wrong.

For more information on the proper way to trim your tree, check out this article.


10. Planting Too Many Plants or Trees

Planting too many plants or trees too close to each other will cause them to compete for food, water, and sunlight. This will cause some to flourish and some to die. Avoid this by planting plants that do not spread and account for a tree’s largest potential size.


11. Building or Covering the Roots

Storing harsh chemicals or building over a tree’s roots will damage them and cause the tree to die. Think of a tree’s roots as their organ system. They are what keeps them alive and healthy. Even soil can be too heavy and suffocate the tree roots. It is best to use a light covering of mulch to cover the roots.


12. Salting Near The Tree

In places like Minnesota, it is important to salt in the winter to keep the roads clear, but getting this near your trees can be toxic. Soil with salt in it does not support life and therefore will kill off your trees, grass, and other plants.


13. Using Herbicides or Pesticides

These may keep away the weeds and pests, but they will harm your trees. It is best to put good mulch around the tree which will naturally prevent weeds.


The difficult part of tree care is knowing what is helping and what is hurting your tree. Do your research or PTC the best practices on tree care.

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