6 Ways to Kill Your Tree

By Cass Turnbull


Urban trees live only a fraction of their natural lifespans.  A tree that would live 80 years in the forest is expected to live an average of 20 years in the suburbs, and only seven in an urban setting.  The most common cause of tree death is abuse and neglect from its number one pest, Homo sapiens.

To prolong the life of your tree, avoid these six most common ways to kill urban trees.

1.  DO NOT FORGET TO WATER


... especially
during the first two
years and during
droughts.  Water
deeply; a long,
slow trickle from
the hose is good.


2.  DO NOT TRENCH, COVER UP, OR COMPACT THE SOIL IN THE ROOT ZONE.


 
A tree's roots are shallower and broader than generally believed.  Tree roots need air and water and empty spaces in the soil.


3.  DO NOT LEAVE ON TIP STAKE TIES TO GIRDLE THE TREE.


With staking, less is better.
  Remove ties as soon as
the tree can stand on its own-
one year, for most trees.
  Leave stakes to protect
from mowers and bumpers
for a while longer.



4.  DO NOT PLANT A BIG TREE IN A SMALL SPACE.


Find out how tall and wide your tree species gets and give it that much room.  Never plant tall trees under wires.  This dooms them to mutilation and certain death.






5.  DO NOT TOP YOUR TREE OR MAKE REPEATED HEADING CUTS (CUT BRANCH TIPS).


Besides killing the tree, topping or
cutting branch tips doesn't even work
to keep it small.  Ironically, it has the
opposite effect: it causes rapid and
unruly regrowth which is not only
ugly, but significantly weaker than
the original limbs.



6.  DO NOT WEED-EAT THE BARK OR BASH THE TRUNK WITH THE MOWER.

The most living and vulnerable part of the tree is just under the bark.

 
Trees die in slow motion, from a series of blows over time.  Trees injured during construction generally give out five to ten years after the injury.  With a little knowledge we can create a kinder, gentler world for our friends: the trees.

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