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Eight Reasons Why Trees Die

Accidents. Automobiles, storms and even lawnmowers can cause bark damage and wounds to trees.

Avoid tree wounding by planting them in sheltered locations or by providing some sort of barrier. Be

very careful while using lawn mowers and weed trimmers, as careless use can damage the roots and

bark of even large trees. Check for any damage incurred during heavy storms and treat it promptly.

Remember, the integrity and stability of a tree changes over time.

Too Much Herbicide. When used properly, chemicals can benefi t trees and their growth. Improperly

used, herbicides can interact with roots and damage the tree’s health. Make sure the instructions for

application are carefully followed. Seek professional help whenever you are not sure.

Soil Compaction. This is a slow tree damage process, often with few or no signs of the cause. In

compacted soil, pore space has been reduced and roots do not get enough oxygen. Often the tree slowly

declines and dies. Soil compaction can be avoided by aerating the soil, by mulching and by preventing

soil disruption around trees on construction sites.

Bad Planting. Planting is one of the most important processes to ensure the tree’s health and longevity.

Make sure the planting hole is two to three times wider but no deeper than the tree’s root ball. Plant

trees promptly and make sure they get adequate water so that roots do not dry.

Watering. Both over and under watering can be harmful to trees. Watering is critical for all trees in dry

spells as well as young or newly transplanted trees. Monitoring the soil moisture is one of the best ways

of making sure that adequate water is provided.

Location, Location, Location. Trees need proper sunlight and should be appropriate for the climatic

conditions, or plant hardiness zone, of the area. Visualize the actual height the tree could reach and make sure there are no power lines in its path and the tree is a good distance from the house, other structures and other plants.

Painting Tree Wounds and Filling Cavities with Concrete. Paint on tree wounds will actually trap

moisture in the wood, increasing the chances of decay. If you want to paint a wound for cosmetic

reasons, use a very thin coating of wound dressing. Trunk cavities fi lled with cement make the tree

unusually rigid, which can restrict the tree’s movement in high winds and leave the upper portion of the

canopy bearing the brunt of the force.

Improper Pruning. Pruning should follow standard established in ANSI A300, published by the

American National Standards Institute. Proper pruning is a tree health treatment, but one of the most

neglected tree care practices.

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