Nearly every day I drive by at least one property where there’s a tree that’s been topped. It makes me cringe every time. Yet this is a tree care practice that doesn’t seem to be going away – along with several other problems that I often see.
So I was happy to be interviewed by Total Landscape Care for an article titled “Arborists: Some common tree-care practices are ill-advised” where I was asked to describe some of the worst, yet common, tree care practices I see around the Danbury, CT area. While these are things you will often see done, it doesn’t mean that they’re the right things to do. In fact, many of these practices can kill your trees.
Here are some of the mistakes I regularly see.
Topping is the practice of drastically cutting back all of a tree’s larger branches at a random point to make them shorter. The result is a tree with large, stubby branches sticking out in all directions. The problem is that not only does it not look good (a coat rack comes to mind), it’s also harmful to the tree. Plus, in the long run, it will cost you more to care for – or even remove – the tree.
After topping, a tree quickly grows back to the same size (or even larger) but will have lost its natural shape and the new growth will be weaker and poorly attached to the trunk (making the tree more dangerous). Add to that the fact that the large, non-selective heading cuts made when topping the tree don’t heal well (leading to rot, disease, and insect infestations) and you have a recipe for disaster.
If you’re looking for ways to reduce the overall size of your tree, give us a call. There are special pruning techniques that can make the tree smaller without damaging it.
Just because poorly-informed landscapers persist in piling mulch around tree trunks doesn’t mean that you should too!
While mulch can be helpful in protecting trees from string trimmers and lawnmowers, can suppress weeds, and can help keep tree roots moist, over-mulching can suffocate tree roots and cause rot and fungal problems on the tree trunk. In fact, it’s become such a problem that it’s one of the leading causes of tree and shrub death in our area.
Please check out this article to learn more about using mulch correctly.
Planting Too Deep
It’s better to plant a tree in a hole that’s a little on the shallow side than it is to plant it too deeply. As with over-mulching, planting too deeply results in rot, fungal diseases, and suffocation. Trees planted this way will start to decline and will die within a few years.
To be sure a tree is planted at the right depth, make sure you can see the root flare above ground. That’s the part at the bottom of the tree trunk where it starts to widen out, just above the roots.
You can read our tree planting tips here.
Planting In a Small Hole
Trees need room to grow, and so does their root system. The planting hole should be at least two to three times as wide as the root ball to give roots space to grow. Digging a nice, deep hole that’s barely wider than the container or rootball will only serve to ensure the tree dies.
Leaving on the Burlap or Wire Basket
Many times when I’ve removed a smaller dead tree, I’ve found a wire basket or burlap sack wrapped around the roots. That’s the basket or burlap that the tree was in before it was planted, and it should’ve been removed before planting. When it’s left in place, or only partially removed, it prevents the tree’s roots from growing into the surrounding soil. As a result, the tree becomes unstable, cannot get the nutrients and water it needs, and eventually dies.
Please don’t let any of these problems happen to you! Hiring an ISA Certified Arborist will ensure that your trees are planted, pruned and maintained in the best way possible to keep them safe, healthy and beautiful for the long term.