Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Don't damage the base of your trees while mowing

By David Burton
University Extension

You might be your trees’ worst enemy if you don’t take care when using mowers and weed eaters around them.

“Trees don’t heal from cuts like we do, so a lawn mower scrape, or a trimmer slash, creates a permanent injury” said Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension. “Once the underlying wood is exposed, you’ve put out a “welcome” sign for diseases and pests to attack your trees.”

Many an older tree has succumbed to internal rot that originated with damage caused years earlier.

According to Byers, there is an easy way to avoid this kind of damage. Remove the grass and weeds from around the tree. Not only will it make it unnecessary to mow near the tree, the tree will not have to compete for the nutrients and water.

Spreading mulch of leaves, grass clippings or straw around trees not only will keep weeds and grass under control, it will give the base of your tree a very attractive appearance. Plus, these organic mulches will help conserve moisture, keep soil temperatures stable, and add nutrients to the soil.

“Damage by mowers and weed trimmers isn’t a tree problem, it’s a people problem. That mighty oak may look invincible, but careless mowing and weed trimming can cause it to die, slowly, from a thousand small cuts,” said Byers.

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