How Lawn Tools Can Damage Your Trees
June 2, 2020
Power lawn tools are a wonderful time saver & make easy work of all your yard chores. But, tools such as lawn mowers and string trimmers can cause serious damage to your trees.
Damage to Bark
Bark is, in essence, the ‘skin’ of your trees that protects all of the ‘organs’ inside. In a tree’s case, the organs are the phloem and xylem – the vascular tubes that carry water and nutrients throughout the tree. When bark is damaged or removed, the vascular system is compromised, making it harder for trees to thrive.
Additionally, wounds to tree bark create open wounds where fungal and bacterial diseases, along with insects, infect or infest your tree. Microorganisms and insects will then cause further damage by making their way to healthy tissue, all while the tree is working overtime to repair the original power tool damage. Diseases that enter through open wounds can rot trees from the inside out. This decay may go on inside the tree for many years without you noticing.
Mechanical damage is usually easy to see on a tree trunk, but if the damage is bad enough, there will be other issues such as:
- dieback of branches
- yellowing or dropping of leaves
- fallen branches
- fallen, rotted trees
Extreme or repetitive damage that extends 50% to 100% around the tree trunk will cause girdling that usually kills the damaged tree.
How to Avoid Tree Damage
While all trees can be damaged by lawn mowers & string trimmers, newly planted trees are especially at risk. The soft, young bark is damaged more easily; and the smaller, less developed root systems of newly planted trees have a harder time recovering from the damage.
Take these tree precautions:
- Remove weeds and lawn grasses around the trunk of your tree by hand. Lawn grass and groundcovers should never be allowed to overtake the base of your tree as they also cause build up of organic material and girdling.
- Create a circle 4-6 feet out from the tree that is weed, grass, and groundcover free & you won’t be tempted to get too close with the power tools.
- Mulch the space around your tree trunk, using care to apply it correctly. Mulch not only suppresses weeds, but cools the soil & helps retain moisture during our hot summers.
- Protect your trunk by installing a bark protector prior to yard work. These can be found at any garden center. Remember to remove following work – if these devices are left in place too long, they can also cause girdling.
Keeping the bark of your trees damage-free is crucial to their long term health and strength. Strong healthy trees have a better chance of standing up to the next big storm!