8 Tree myths your customers may believe

Myths about trees include the idea that root systems are a deep, mirror image of the tree’s trunk and limbs, topping is good for trees and that branches move upward as the tree gains height.

This article is going to help you and others find the truth about these myths and help further your understanding and appreciation of trees.


1. Tree stakes are essential

There is some truth behind this myth, while tree stakes can help when strong winds are present or when seedlings are first planted, it’s important to remove them after the first year. It’s not uncommon for tree stakes to be installed and then forgotten, which can lead to root girdling as the tree grows. Additionally stakes that have been installed incorrectly can reduce the natural sway of the trunk necessary for good taper and strong wood. Trees will be stronger if not staked. The movement of young trees by wind strengthens them.


2. Anyone can plant a tree correctly!

As we have just mentioned, sometimes the best intentions can result in an unhappy tree. When it come to planting a tree it’s true that anyone can do it, but for a healthy tree that can provide you with optimal benefits requires thoughtful care and good tree knowledge. It’s key to choose the right tree for your planting location, to use proper planting techniques and to provide adequate care. An example of the care and attention needed is providing structural pruning consistently in the first 3-5 years which will result in a stronger, healthier tree with less maintenance costs as the tree ages.


3.  Roots surface and damage lawnmowers

It’s common to hear people complaining about tree roots coming to the surface and preventing grass from growing and damaging lawn mowers. In actual fact under the right conditions tree roots grow through soil, not on top of it. The most common causes of surfaced roots are shallow rocks near surface and a high water table.


4. Water can perform miracles on trees

Water is a really important part of preventing stress that can lead a tree to disease, insect infestations and early decline, as well as removing air pockets at the time of planting. But as the proverb states, too much of a good thing can be bad. Many urban foresters will agree that many more trees drown than die of drought, and this is a result of over watering. Watering should be done only when there is a long dry spell, especially if windy or hot and dry climates air dominant. To give you a better idea of what is meant by this, a large newly planted tree needs only 10 gallons of water a week in dry weather.


5. Lots of mulch is good

As we have covered in previous guides mulch is important as it holds moisture, regulates temperature and suppresses weeds. While a 5 – 7 cm layer of mulch can be extremely beneficial excessive amounts can disrupt soil moisture and aeration. It is good practice to keep adding small amounts of mulch over time, tapering the depth as it gets close to the trunk.


6. Planting trees deep encourages strong, deep roots

This s not good practice, trees should never be planted deeper than the top of its root ball. Improper planting is the number one cause for tree and shrub death. If you are going to plant your own tree follow a guide, these can easily be found online for free.


7. If it’s by my house, it’s my tree

When you moved into a new house did you wonder whose responsibility it was to care for the front garden tree—yours or the city’s? While it will vary in each community based on its ordinance, in most cases trees on the street easement or right-of-way belong to the city. This is true regardless of who planted the tree. Knowing who has the responsibility for street trees in your community is important in determining who should prune and care for trees, who is likely to be liable if an accident occurs and who pays for tree work or removal.


8. Trees ruin pavements

Trees are often mistaken as the culprit for cracking pavements, but there is a much deeper problem at hand, and it isn’t trees. Steve Sandfort, an urban forestry consultant explains that often communities use the same construction design in building pavements when in fact the same design shouldn’t be used because there are differences in soils (such as soils of a high swell and shrink nature) throughout the city that will impact construction. As a result of poor design and soil conditions, roots often follow the gaps created as poor pavement heaves and settles.


Recognising myths about trees and tree care is a result of continuing education and learning. When properly cared for, trees do not harm structural surroundings. It is often poor construction and design that leads to trees growing in places that are not tree friendly.

What other tree myths can you dispel? Let us know below!

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