Common Mistakes Homeowners Make When Caring for Their Trees
Don’t let these common pitfalls harm your beautiful trees. Here are four mistakes to avoid, and what you should do instead.
Quit Piling Mulch Against the Trunk
While it’s true that a layer of mulch around your trees will help retain moisture in the soil and provide general protection, piling up the mulch around the bottom of the trunk like a volcano traps moisture against the trunk and can actually cause rot. In addition, mulch that is applied too deep prevents oxygen from getting to the tree’s roots. As a rule, always mulch out and not up, keeping your mulch layer about 2-3 inches deep. Hardwood mulch makes a great choice since it breaks down slowly and provides nutrients to the soil
Nix the Pruning Paint
Proper pruning of trees and shrubs is great for promoting healthy plants, but you’re gonna want to skip the pruning paint. Meant to help seal cuts left from pruning, what pruning paint actually does is seal in bacteria and fungi that can cause disease. It also inhibits a tree’s ability to naturally seal off their wounds. Plus, most tree wound-sealing products are petroleum-based, which isn’t the best thing for living tissue.
Avoid Topping Trees
A tree that gets too tall can create issues with electrical lines, or cause it to outgrow its space. However, trying to address the problem by randomly lopping off large branches (topping the tree) is not the answer. Not only does this expose the tree to disease, decay and damage from sun or insects, it can stress out the tree enough to kill it. Also, any smaller branches that grow to fill in the void left by topping are more prone to breakage during storms. The best solution for pruning large trees away from power lines is to hire a trained arborist. And if a tree outgrows its location, it’s better to remove it entirely and plant something more suitable.
Stop Staking Young Trees
Although freshly planted saplings might need a little help to stand up straight sometimes, in most cases staking isn’t necessary. In order to grow strong roots and trunks, trees need the freedom to move and sway in the breeze. Affixing the trunk to a stake or wire inhibits that natural movement. The simple truth is that staked trees lack trunk and root development, which makes them more susceptible to breakage or blow-down. Of course, staking trees in a high-wind area is sometimes necessary, but be sure to remove the stakes or guide wires after six months. Staking too long, too tight, and too high are common causes of tree damage.
The most important thing to remember about trees is that they do need love and attention. They are not plants that can be planted and forgotten. With proper care, like regular watering, careful pruning, and taking preventative steps for insect damage, your trees will thrive and live a long, long life.