Plant Health Alert – What Not to Do

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There are many mistakes that well-meaning gardeners might make in their landscapes. There are a few of these mistakes that we see over and over here in our capacity as landscape and plant consultants. Here are a few of the top mistakes we see constantly in Henderson County Landscapes.

1. Planting trees without removing the packaging leads to future root issues. All packaging material should be removed from balled and burlap field grown trees.

leyland with strap burlap

Burlap inhibits root growth. It should be removed at planting.

red maples with termites girdling straps

Strapping associated with field grown balled and burlap trees can girdle tree trunks if not removed at planting.

2. Excessive mulch or ‘volcano mulching’ leads to roots surfacing and ultimately girdling roots.

girdling roots maple

Girdling roots are caused by roots that are surfacing to obtain oxygen of which they are deprived because of being planted too deep or buried too deep in mulch. Girdling roots strangle the trunk cutting off water flow from the roots.

volcano mulch

Mulch piled this high starts to compost. The decomposition of the mulch causes heat that can damage the wood of the tree and roots. Also this ‘volcano mulching’ holds moisture against the bark causing rot. Finally, roots grow upwards to get oxygen and eventually girdle or strangle the stem.

3. Planting the wrong plant in the wrong place leads to future trouble. Trees that get too large near a building can cost lots of money in the future. Plant appropriately sized plants.

willow oak too close to home

The willow oak and the arborvitae are planted two feet from this home. The willow oak can reach a height of 70-100 feet all and 60 feet across. The arborvitae can get 60 tall and 30 feet across. Eventually these tress would damage the foundation and other infrastructure of this home.

4. Planting trees too deep creates many of the same problems as over-mulching. Roots rise to the surface and eventually become girdling roots.

tree planted too deep

Notice the roots that have come to the surface that would impact the trunk in the future as girdling roots.

5. Improper pruning leads to structural weakness in trees. Cutting into old wood creates wounds that will seal slowly leading to fungal rot in the inner wood of the tree.

old topped tree rot

azalea bad pruning

poorly pruned cedar

bad pruning