Gardening Gardening tools Lawn Trees Winter Protection

Mowing Tools Can Be a Tree’s Worst Enemy!

Lawn mowers and weed trimmers can seriously damage young trunks. Ill.: Clipart Max & gumtree.com.au, montage: laidbackgardener.blog

Probably the worst enemies of young trees are the lawn mower and 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 or more later.

Tree with trimmer damage. Photo: thepostnewspaper.net

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. In some neighborhoods, most trees have this sort of damage… and many are slowly dying!

Tree trunk guard made from drainage pipe. This one is extra high, also protecting the trunk from vole damage during a snowy winter. Photo: http://www.familyhandyman.com
Commercial trunk guard. Photo: http://www.grainger.com


Fortunately, this is easy to prevent. For one thing, you can place a barrier, often called a trunk guard, around the trunk of any young tree planted in a lawn. Several types are available in garden centers, but you can also make your own from a simple piece of drainage pipe, slit along one side that you can place around the trunk.

A circle of mulch will protect a young tree. Photo: Phil Crockett

Better yet, however, simply surround the young tree with … anything but a lawn that will need mowing! That could be a circle of mulch, a ground cover or a flower bed planted at its base. That way neither the mower nor the trimmer will ever have to get near the trunk!

Article adapted from one published on July 14, 2014.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. After studies at the University of Toronto and Laval University where he obtained his B.A. in modern languages in 1978, he succeeded in combining his language skills with his passion for gardening in a novel career as a garden writer and lecturer. 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 is a regular contributor to and horticultural consultant for Fleurs, Plantes, Jardins garden magazine and has written for many other garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Rebecca’s Garden 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 50 other titles in English and French. He can be seen in Quebec on French-language television and was notably a regular collaborator for 7 years on the TV shows Fleurs et Jardins and Salut Bonjour Weekend. He is the President of the Garden Writers Association Foundation and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. An avid proponent of garden tourism, he has lead garden tours throughout Canada and to the gardens of over 30 countries over the last 30 years. He presently resides in Quebec City, Quebec.

3 comments on “Mowing Tools Can Be a Tree’s Worst Enemy!

  1. 3# photo is better, but has more cost & time. If it is a fruit tree here in my garden, I would have a cage to protect it from wild life.

  2. Weed whackers were my rant for today (Wednesday).

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