Debunking 9 Common Tree Care Myths: Separating Fact from Fiction

May 23, 2023 | Tree Care

I have come across various tree care myths that have been passed down from generation to generation. Unfortunately, these myths often lead to improper tree care practices that can cause serious harm to trees. In this article, I aim to debunk some of the most common tree care myths and provide scientific facts and expert opinions.

Introduction to tree care myths

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Trees are essential to our environment, and proper tree care is crucial for their growth and survival. However, many people have misconceptions about tree care that can lead to unhealthy trees or even their demise. This section will discuss some of the most common tree care myths.

Myth 1: Pruning should only be done in the fall or winter

Many believe pruning should only be done in the fall or winter when the trees are dormant. However, this is not true. While pruning during the dormant season can benefit some tree species, pruning can be done any time of the year. The best time to prune depends on the tree species, the reason for pruning, and the local climate.

For example, spring-blooming trees should be pruned after blooming, while summer-blooming trees should be pruned during the dormant season. Pruning during the active growing season can also help control the size and shape of the tree.

Myth 2: Staking newly planted trees is necessary

Staking newly planted trees is a common practice that many people believe is necessary for the tree’s survival. However, staking is only necessary in certain situations, such as when the tree is in a windy location or has a weak root system. In most cases, staking can harm the tree.

When a tree is staked, it does not develop a strong root system because it relies on the stake for support. This can lead to a weak, unstable tree that is more susceptible to damage from wind and other environmental factors. Instead of staking, it is better to provide the tree with proper soil conditions, adequate water, and regular pruning to promote healthy growth.

Myth 3: Trees don’t need water during rainy seasons

Many people believe trees don’t need water during rainy seasons because they receive enough water from the rain. However, this is only sometimes true. Trees require a consistent water supply, and rainy seasons can sometimes be erratic, with periods of heavy rain followed by long periods of dry weather.

During periods of drought, trees can become stressed and more susceptible to disease and insect infestations. Therefore, it is important to water trees regularly, even during rainy seasons, to ensure their health and survival.

Myth 4: Topping trees is a good way to control their growth

Topping a tree involves cutting off the top of the tree’s canopy, leaving only the trunk and a few branches. Many believe that topping trees is a good way to control their growth and prevent them from becoming too tall. However, this is not true.

Topping trees can cause severe damage to the tree, including weakening the trunk, promoting the growth of weak branches, and leaving the tree susceptible to disease and insect infestations. Instead of topping, it is better to prune the tree regularly to control its size and shape.

Myth 5: Tree roots grow deep, so they don’t need much watering

Many believe tree roots grow deep into the ground, so they don’t need much watering. However, this is not true. While some tree species have deep roots, most of a tree’s roots are located in the top few inches of soil. This is where the tree absorbs most of its water and nutrients.

It is important to water trees deeply and regularly, especially during drought, to ensure that the roots have access to enough water. Watering should be done slowly and deeply to allow the water to penetrate the soil and reach the tree’s roots.

Myth 6: Fertilising trees is always necessary

Many believe fertilising trees is always necessary for their growth and health. However, this is not true. While some trees may benefit from fertilisation, others do not need it and may even be harmed by excessive fertilisation.

Before fertilising a tree, it is important to determine its specific nutrient needs and the type of fertiliser best suited for it. Over-fertilization can lead to nutrient imbalances, root damage, and even death.

Myth 7: Removing a tree stump is easy and can be done by anyone

Many people believe that removing a tree stump is an easy task that anyone can do. However, this is not true. Removing a tree stump can be a difficult and dangerous task that requires specialised equipment and knowledge.

Stump removal involves grinding the stump down to below ground level, which can be dangerous if done improperly. Therefore, hiring a professional tree care company to remove a tree stump is best to ensure it is done safely and effectively.

Myth 8: Tree wounds should be painted to promote healing

Many believe painting a tree’s wounds with a sealant or paint can promote healing and prevent disease. However, this is not true. Instead, painting a tree’s wounds can harm the tree by trapping moisture and preventing the wound from healing properly.

Instead of painting, cleaning the wound and allowing it to heal naturally is better. The tree’s natural defences will protect it from disease and insects, and the damage will eventually heal on its own.

Myth 9: Using ropes to tie trees to stakes won’t cause any harm

Many people believe using ropes to tie trees to stakes is a harmless practice that can help the tree grow straight and strong. However, this is not true. Using ropes can cause severe damage to the tree’s bark and trunk, leading to disease and insect infestations.

Instead of using ropes, it is better to use tree straps or other materials that will not damage the tree. The ties should be loose enough to allow the tree to move in the wind and promote strong root development.

Busting the myths with scientific facts and expert opinions

Tree care myths are often based on anecdotal evidence and old wives’ tales. However, scientific research and expert opinions can help us separate fact from fiction. Following the proper tree care practices and debunking these myths can ensure healthy and thriving trees for generations to come.

Conclusion: The importance of proper tree care practices

Proper tree care is crucial for the health and survival of trees. By debunking these common tree care myths and following the proper tree care practices, we can ensure our trees remain healthy and thriving. As a certified arborist, I encourage everyone to educate themselves on proper tree care practices and to seek the advice of a professional tree care company when in doubt.

Contact us today to schedule a tree care consultation and ensure the health and longevity of your trees. 

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