Top 10 Reasons Trees Perish Prematurely

#10 Automobiles – Bark damage and breakage is a common occurrence in cities. The problem can be greatly reduced with proper curbing, barriers, and planting trees so that damage can’t be caused by car doors and bumpers.

#9 Misuse of Herbicides – Pay close attention to herbicide labels and instructions. Chemicals that work through reactions in the soil should not be allowed to interact with tree roots. Avoid applying weed treatments on windy days.

#8 Lawn Mowers – Lawn mowers and weed trimmers do tremendous damage through careless use of the equipment. Set lawn mowers to a height that won’t damage tree roots and avoid damaging trunks with trimmers.

#7 Soil Compaction – The damage resulting from soil compaction is slow and cumulative. Regular aeration and mulching are effective ways to minimize this deadly culprit. This is of importance for trees exposed to a high degree of foot traffic such as in parks and on school grounds.

#6 Poor Planting – Good planting techniques are essential to positive results. Follow the instructions provided on this website.

#5 Lack of Watering – Watering is critical during dry spells, especially for new or young trees. If paid personnel are not available for community planting projects, volunteer fire departments are often available to accomplish this important task.

#4 Inappropriate Tree for the Site – A tree that will grow taller than the power lines above it is in a perilous situation. Trees that are not adapted to the local climate or soil conditions also don’t have a bright future. Familiarize yourself the limitations of the site above and below ground in relation to the characteristics of the tree to be planted. More about tree selection is on this website.

#3 Vandalism – This is difficult to prevent because it is often related to alcohol abuse, anger, or emotional outbursts. Educating the public (especially young persons) about the benefits of trees, planting trees with a caliper size larger than 2 inches near schools, playgrounds, and on streets, and pruning limbs to a minimum of 8 feet above the sidewalk are some preventative techniques

#2 Improper Pruning – Harmful practices include topping or improperly removing too much crown and flush and stub cutting when removing branches. Thinning cuts and natural target pruning methods should always be used. More about pruning on this website.

#1 Construction Damage – Trees on a construction site must be protected from root and canopy injury as well as soil compaction to be able to survive during the construction process.

(Adapted from a list developed by James R. Dean, Georgia-Pacific Corporation, North Little Rock, AR)

Copyright © 2020 Arkansas Urban Forestry Council