Ways to Avoid Killing Your Tree

Got a tree in your yard? Thinking about planting one? Here are some ways to avoid killing your tree(s):

Don’t forget to water. It is easy to overlook your trees and skip watering them. While you’re watering your plants, shoot some water your tree’s way or consider installing a TreegatorÒ for the first year or two following planting. After 5 years the tree should not require much additional irrigation.  Also be sure sprinklers are not spraying directly onto the trunk as this creates health problems for the tree.

Don’t cover up or compact the soil in the root zone. Roots do not survive in compacted soil; therefore your tree will not survive. Avoid storing heavy things under your tree and avoid stepping on the soil in the root zone too often.

Along those same lines, don’t excavate within the dripline of trees.  Trees roots extend far beyond the trunk and even beyond the dripline.  Installing fences, patios and pathways directly next to a tree requires the removal of many critical roots and can kill a tree rapidly.  If your project requires excavating next to a tree, hire a consulting arborist to assess potential damages and offer tips for increasing the chances of survival.

Don’t leave on tip stake ties too long. Remove ties as soon as the tree can stand on its own, or better yet don’t install them at all.

Do not plant a big tree in a small space. Figure out how big your tree will grow to be before choosing a spot to plant it. For example, never plant tall trees under wires or roofed areas.

Do not top your tree.  Just don’t do it.  It’s ugly and it creates hazards in the future that may affect valuable targets or tree workers.

Mow around the tree, not through it. Avoid hitting the tree with machinery. The most alive and vulnerable part of the tree is just under the bark. Weed eaters/whips are a common source of physical damage to tree trunks.  Adding a mulch ring around the tree can help keep grass and trees away from the trunk so that machinery is unnecessary.

Hire a Certified Arborist to care for your trees.  Certified Arborists are up to date on the science of trees and tree care practices, which are changing rapidly.  Follow these links to find a Certified Arborist (http://pnwisa.org/ or http://www.isa-arbor.com/faca/findArborist.aspx)or Registered Consulting Arborist (http://www.asca-consultants.org/find/).

Follow these guidelines and you will be successful in not killing your tree!

Written by Isabella Kharrazi and Brooke Sullivan


Turnball, Cass. "6 Ways to Kill Your Tree." PlantAmnesty - Stop Topping Trees! - 6 Ways to Kill Your Tree. Plant Amnesty, n.d. Web. 07 Aug. 2013.