Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Garden Tools Can Be a Tree’s Worst Enemy!

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Lawn mowers and weed trimmers can seriously damage young trunks.

Probably the worst enemies of young trees are the lawn mower and the weed trimmer! That’s because the bark of young trees is still very thin and therefore fragile. Bumping against the bark, especially repeatedly, with heavy machinery often causes injuries that heal poorly and can cause long-term problems, sometimes even leading to the loss of the tree a decade later or more.


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Tree with trimmer damage.

Note that these injuries are not always external and therefore visible immediately. Just as a person can have an effusion of blood under the skin which becomes a bruise, the injury to the tree following a blow is often under the bark. It is only later (sometimes years later) when the bark swells or detaches from the trunk or when fungi form that the gardener realizes there was even a problem.



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Tree trunk protector.

Fortunately this is easy to prevent. For one thing, you can place a barrier, often called a tree trunk protector, around the trunk of any young tree planted in a lawn. Several types are available in garden centers, but a simple piece of drainage pipe, slit along one side, will work fine.


A circle of mulch will protect a young tree.





Better yet, however, simply surround the young tree with of a circle of mulch or grow a ground cover or a flower bed at its base. That way neither the mower or trimmer will ever have to get near the trunk !

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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