Don't Do This To Your Tree

What you need to know hazardous trees


I meet them almost every day. Good people that really care about their trees who would do almost anything to maintain their health and beauty. Yet somehow these same people unknowingly damage their trees beyond repair. How can this be? Well, like in all areas of life, knowledge is power and lack of knowledge can lead to serious consequences.




Four Critical Things You Should Never Do To Your Tree
Spreading the word on proper tree care is what these articles are all about. So to protect your valuable, natural asset, here are four critical things you should never do to your tree

  • Use Poor Pruning Techniques-* Whether you prune your trees yourself, hire one of the many unqualified tree care “professionals” or ask your lawn guy to squeeze it into his schedule, poor pruning techniques can cause serious problems for your trees. Among the most common bad pruning techniques are over-lifting (taking too many branches off the bottom of the tree) tree topping (removing the upper crown of a tree) and stub cutting (trimming too far away from the stem). Additionally, you should never cut off more than 25% of the live tree branches in a single pruning. Remember, just one bad pruning can severely damage or even kill your tree.
  • Place Dirt Over The Root Zone-* It’s the work of an amateur gardener. To enhance the area around their tree, they build a planter box around the trunk, then they add dirt and plant flowers. It looks great, but it can be deadly to a tree. The roots of a tree need air and when soil pushes up against the trunk, it smothers the root system. In time this costly mistake can lead to decay, insects, infestation and death. If you simply must cover the root zone with dirt, add no more than couple of inches of a light soil.
  • Apply Herbicides Under Your Tree-* When you or your lawn care professional apply a “weed and feed” on your lawn, herbicides are used to kill the weeds. If these chemicals are applied too close to the root zone of a tree, they can seriously damage or even kill the tree. Although young trees (less than a year old) are most vulnerable, I’ve even see tough, 100 year old live oaks succumb to herbicide applications. Remember, trees are living things and what you put into the ground is going to be absorbed by the tree’s root system. For best results, simply choose not to apply herbicides underneath any tree.
  • Drive or Park Under Your Tree*- Sometimes houses or apartment buildings with limited parking availability allow driving underneath or parking under a tree. Few people realize that this can damage or kill a tree in two ways. First, a car that is driven under the drip line of a tree (the area from the trunk to the outermost leaves) runs over the tree’s root system, which could break or fracture the roots. Second, putting that much weight on the root zone will compact the soil. When that happens resources such as water and air are cut off from the root system and all new root growth ceases, causing the eventual demise of the tree.








  • Jon Wilbur is an ISA Certified Arborist and co-owner of Pinellas Tree Service, in Clearwater.

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    Jon Wilbur