How Mowers, Weed Trimmers and Wire can Kill Your Tree
November 15, 2016
Have you noticed cuts or wounds around the base of your tree’s trunk? Common “mechanical injuries” due to contact with lawn mowers, string trimmers, construction or planting injury can cause big health problems for your trees. If not diagnosed and healed swiftly and properly these once minor injuries can turn deadly over time. These types of physical injuries can be especially problematic for freshly planted young trees that are already vulnerable due to a limited root system.
What happens to injured roots or trunks?
Bark is the “skin” of your tree. It protects your trees from environmental hazards that might cause irreparable harm. When the bark is cut or removed altogether, harmful pathogens can enter through the wound, causing fungal or bacterial diseases to infect your tree, eventually rotting your tree from the inside out. Decay could progress for years before you ever notice any obvious signs.
Sudden leaf defoliation, falling branches, or even a fallen tree, could be your only indicator of injury decay - but by then it may be too late. Insects are also attracted to wounded trees. Keeping the bark of your tree intact and healthy is important to the long-lived health of your trees.
Prevention is the best medicine
To prevent damage caused by mowers or trimmers, a low cost precaution is a plastic guard that can be wrapped around the base of new plantings to protect the bark. It's also helpful to put down mulch under the tree out to the canopy drip line (where the branches of your tree ends). The mulch not only helps conserve moisture and block weeds, but it also creates a safe barrier where you won’t be using the mower or weed trimmer. When you let grass or other ground covers that require trimming to grow right up against your tree’s trunk, then it’s bound to be damaged by lawn maintenance equipment.
More tree dangers...
Construction vehicles and heavy building supplies stacked on top of tree roots, can compact the soil, making it difficult for air and water to circulate to the feeder roots. Heavy foot traffic can also cause the same problem. Sometimes equipment that’s used to help grow the tree before it’s planted into a landscape can end up being the culprit. Burlap around the root ball, wire used to secure the root ball, or wires and ropes used for staking can end up damaging the tree.
Some types of injury are only preventable via proper placement when planting. Alleys, city easements and underneath power lines are all vulnerable locations to plant a new tree, as they will very likely get marred by cars and trucks or severely cut back to clear power lines.
When planting a new tree, be sure to carefully considering the planting location to make sure your tree will be clear of physical damage from buildings or vehicles. Then, make sure all of the bindings are removed from the root ball when the tree is planted. Then, be sure to keep your lawn gear away from the tree to prevent damage.