Burlap girdling tree

Burlap girdling tree

The absolute best time to ensure the future health of new landscapes and newly planted trees is to get it right at the beginning. We often are called in to diagnose problems at properties that were landscaped several years ago, sometimes even more. Spraying and fertilizing trees can only fix so much. There are a number of common problems that occur during planting (all of them preventable) that will severely undermine the health of woody ornamentals and may even result in their death:

  1. Leaving burlap from the ball tied around the trunk which will girdle the tree
  2. Planting trees and shrubs too deep, stifling the root collar
  3. Leaving wire cages, nylon netting, or “seat-belt” nylon burlap on the root balls
  4. Staking new trees and leaving wire to girdle the bark as tree grows
  5. Potting too much mulch around the tree, causing “volcano” effect
  6. Growing turf right up against the trunk of tree
  7. Planting wrong tree in wrong location
  8. Planting trees and ornamentals that will cause problems to each other

You can see in the picture above an expensive specimen tree (Japanese maple) that is going to die shortly because burlap was never cut away from the root crown during planting. We were called in to diagnose the tree and found this problem when we removed soil around the base to check the root structure. The burlap has now girdled the tree, cutting of its’ vital cambium and phloem layers. Yes, even cloth burlap can do this. We also see dying trees where the wire cage has not been removed, or nylon “seat belt” material and nylon netting has been left, cutting off growing roots or preventing roots from expanding past the original root ball. Trees also get girdled when they are staked up with wire around the trunks during planting, and the wire is never removed later. Another common landscaping problem is planting trees too deep, so that the root crown (the area where the trunk spreads out into the root mass) is buried. This area needs to be above the soil line to allow vital air/ water interchange to occur. Placing too much mulch under a tree and making a “volcano” against the trunk, will also cause suffocation of the root crown. Planting turf right up against the trunk of a tree is also a big no-no, as turf will compete with the trees fine roots out to the drip line, cutting off nutrients and water. Finally, we often see issues that come from planting the wrong trees in the wrong place, or planting trees that bring problems to each other. For instance, planting sun-loving trees in shade is a coomon occurence (and vice versa.) Or planting junipers and crabapples near each other, causing both trees to cross infect each other with rust diseases.

Many of these problems can be corrected before they cause irreperable damage as long as they are diagnosed and corrected early enough. If you need a diagnosis of your landscape trees please call us and we’ll send an arborist to meet with you.