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 !

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

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