As the grass turns green, we spend more time caring and manicuring our yards. Lawn tools are great and help expedite the process of cleaning up lawns. More often than not, we see lawn mower and weed-eater damage to trees. The damage to your trees from these tools could be detrimental.
WHY IS BARK SO IMPORTANT?
We like to analogize trees to the human body. For instance, the tree’s bark is essentially the trees ‘skin’. Once the bark is damaged, and a wound is created, this becomes a long-term liability, which can lead to severe defects and can increase threat to the trees livelihood.
The bark on trees is vital to its life. Bark serves the trees in numerous different aspects. It helps keep out moisture, but also helps to retain moisture when the air is dry. Bark aids from insect threat, fungal infections, fire, and from hungry birds and mammals. Each tree species has evolved to the environment it is in, even the bark and most have chemicals within the bark that ward off fungi and insects.
Depending on the tree and age, the bark thickness ranges from a few inches to 1/16 of an inch. Although the thick-barked trees can handle a whack or two from a weed-eater, the thinner barked trees can’t and it is not recommended that any tree be harmed from these tools.
WHAT CAN HAPPEN?:
Lawn care tool damage typically occurs on the root flare or on the trunk. Once this area is damaged from a tool, it acts as an opening for insects and diseases to prey on, which can further the existing damage. Fungi can become active on this wound and decay will start. Branches will start to dieback, leaves will turn yellow and/or drop, branches will fall. If the decay is not stopped, it will continue to spread and weaken the tree till it dies or becomes a risk for the structures and people around it.
HOW TO AVOID LAWN CARE DAMAGE TO YOUR TREES:
Newly planted trees are often the most effected from lawn care tools. Their bark is thin and their root system is not fully established and has a harder time recovering. Newly planted trees need all the help to become well-established and thriving
A few things to implement into your lawn care routine:
• Remove weeds and grass around your trees.
• Mulch the space around your tree. Ideally, go to the drip line of your tree (where the branches stop); most of the time, trees roots will go out this far and the mulch helps keep them cool in summer and warmer in the winter as well as retaining moisture year round. If you can’t mulch this far, a few feet from the trunk will help.
• Protect your trunk by installing a bark protector. If you go this route, make sure to take off during winter when yard work is minimal. If you leave this on too long, it can cause girdling, which is another issue, that you do not want.
Keeping healthy bark for your trees is vital. Humans are one of trees biggest predators and most of the time it is unintentional. If your tree has lawn tool injury, please give us a call and we will assess the problem and see if we can help your tree