Terrifying tree tales

If trees could talk, these spine-chilling stories would startle saplings senseless.

A mature shade tree is one of the most valuable additions you can make to your landscape. However, majestic trees start out as small saplings. It’s in the time shortly after planting when they are most vulnerable.

If trees could talk, here are a few spine-chilling stories that would startle saplings senseless.

Paralyzing plastic — Many trees grown in nurseries have a bamboo pole, attached with plastic tape, that guides them to grow tall and straight while in the pot. If this pole isn’t removed once the tree is planted the plastic can get stuck in the bark as the tree grows. Likewise, name tags that are attached at the nursery can get trapped in the trees’ bark as it grows.

tree damage

Beware the bubblers — Homes with new irrigation systems often have a zone of tree bubblers to help establish the new trees. How can giving the tree a little extra water hurt? When they are secured to the tree trunk with wire. Wrapping wire around a tree’s trunk creates a motion tragedy for the tree. As the tree grows the wire doesn’t expand cutting into the trees vascular system and killing or forever weakening the tree.

bubbler wired to tree

Life-threatening labels and strangling straps — Sometimes when a new development is underway, trees selected to remain are tagged. When the tags are left behind long after they’ve served their purpose, the tree begins to grow around them, making them impossible to remove.

labels and strangling straps

The same goes for posts and straps that are often put in place after a tree is planted to hold it steady until it can establish roots.

post strap tree damage

Why are these accounts so troubling for trees? Because trees don’t heal the same way humans do. When you get a cut, your skin can repair itself over time and become like new. Trees, on the other hand, compartmentalize damage and grow around it.

Sadly, damage done to a tree remains. Forever. Forever. Forever. Those foreign bits of metal, plastic and fabric will always be there weakening the tree, threatening its life.

You can prevent these tree terrors from coming true. Remove unnecessary nursery tags, tape and straps before they get trapped by bark. Loosen and remove stabilizing straps as the tree grows.

The trees will thank you — and provide shade for you for years to come.

Picture of Cleveland Powell
Cleveland Powell
Cleveland Powell is a conservation planner for SAWS. He is enthusiastic about grass taxonomy and milkweed propagation. In his free time, Powell enjoys hiking around area parks in search of intriguing bugs, birds and plants.
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