Tips For Taking Care Of Trees
If Trees Could Talk
If trees could talk they’d have a lot to say. I’m sure they’d want us all to plant more trees, but more than that — I’m real sure they’d want us to know how to treat those trees who are already here. Like with so many other beings and creatures on this planet, humans haven’t been so kind to them. As an imaginative child, I was real sure that trees talked to me. I’ve been blessed to know a good many trees, among them:
Some of the finest, were in a particular Eucalyptus forest in Monterrey, California, where I often played as a child under the swaying leaves, nearly drunk with joy from the scent.
- We often camped during the summers in the Giant Sequoias, leaving indelible memories of trees no child could ever forget.
- Then, there were the mystical bald cypress trees in Louisiana, with their knees who spoke volumes about the ways of the swamp.
- One single Palo Verde tree in the Anza Borreo desert, ablaze with yellow-orange blossoms and abuzz with bees, blessed us with our only shade. That one tree taught me how trees, people, and bees all are connected and need each other.
- The more than 300 years old weeping willows, silent witnesses planted by my Acadian ancestors in Grand-Pré, who honor their adaptability to a New World.
As an adult, however, trees might not be able to talk quite as much as I thought they could when I was a girl — but if they could, they would have a lot to say about what we do and do not understand about their care and their importance to us. Part of what they would say is: Protect us, because you need us. They’d also say, there are certain myths or false beliefs that people need to unlearn. Here are some of their statements:
- Trees are not like us, they cannot heal. If humans and other mammals are injured, we usually are able to heal. Trees can’t replace damaged tissue, the only thing they can do is seal off the wound.
- Aching beneath the wound, they’d want us to know that this area can never supply the rest of the tree with stored food. They’d also want us to know that if they get more boo boos, they could slowly starve to death
Circling Tree Roots - At the Root of My Problem
At the root of any tree’s problem, is our human lack of common understanding of tree facts, like:
- That contrary to popular belief, many trees do not have tap roots, and this is especially true of trees planted in our urban areas.
- Tree roots will often grow as far away from the tree, as the tree is tall (sometimes further).
- Roots circling in a container, do not keep circling once the tree is planted. What grew in the container, does not straighten out.
Protect Trees From Construction Activities — I’m Afraid of Heavy Equipment
They’d tell us, “Help me! I’m afraid of heavy equipment, and can’t protect myself.” Just remember a small trunk wound by heavy equipment or a mower, can cause major damage and death to a tree. Some ways that you can protect the tree you love are:
- Do not disturb soil beneath the branch drip-line during nearby construction.
- Grading to prepare a site for laying sod, or planting shrubs can harm trees, so design your landscape to fit your existing grade.
- Never remove soil, or add soil to the area inside the drip-line of any tree.
- Tree well walls might look nice, but they also aren’t healthy for trees.
- Once the root system has been damaged by heavy equipment (such as bulldozers, earth scrapers, and mowers) — a tree might survive for a few years, but will still die eventually from those injuries.
Don’t Make Me Pack a Second Trunk
- Horizontal branches or double leaders will become hazardous to people and property, as the tree grows larger. So remember, horizontal branches are better attached to trees than upright branches.
- Upright branches are only poorly attached, and if left alone become a second trunk. Eventually they will split from the tree during a storm and create a hazard.
Tree Pruning - What Else You Might Not Know About Trees
Don’t Cut My Top Off!
- Topping off trees shortens their lives. More than that, topping off a tree creates a dangerous situation.
- Don’t ever top a tree, even though you may see it as common place, this practice is hazardous.
- Once cut, the wood inside the branch decays.
- Always prune back to a living branch crotch. This practice is an eventual death sentence for the tree.
If Trees Could Talk Here’s What They Would Say!
- Every year, my friends and I save you 2.1 billion dollars in heating and cooling costs, by our shade and wind reduction.
- Every year, my friends and I, each contribute 260 pounds of oxygen. Just one of us donates enough to keep two of you alive.
- We’d prefer that you write online, read online, and share online — because on average, each of you already use 750 pounds of paper a year.