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Myths About Trees

We hear a lot of myths about trees so we thought we'd take this opportunity to clear some of those myths. Read on for more.

Myth: Anyone can plant a tree correctly.

Truth: It iss true anyone can plant a tree, but to growing a healthy tree that can provide you with optimal benefits requires thoughtful care. Right from the start, it is important to choose the right tree for the right place, to use proper planting techniques and to prove adequate care for it. For example, providing structural pruning consistently in the first three to five years will result in a stronger, healthier tree with less maintenance costs as the tree ages.  Additional information about proper planting and maintenance.

Myth: Lots of mulch is good.

Truth: Mulch is important as it suppresses weeds, holds moisture, and protects against extreme temperatures. While a two to three inch layer of mulch can be beneficial, excessive amounts of mulch may disrupt soil moisture and aeration. It is best to keep adding small amounts of composted material over time, tapering the depth of the mulch as it gets close to the tree trunk and preventing the mulch from being in contact with the trunk itself. Even living wood decays when kept moist.

Myth: Planting trees deep encourages strong, deep roots.

Truth: Trees should never be planted deeper than the top of its root flare, the area that swells as the trunk meets the roots.  If you can't see this it's because the tree is probably already planted too deep. Improper planting is the number one cause for tree and shrub death. If the tree doesn't die, poor growth and eventual failure by falling over.  Tips on proper planting. Myth: He advertised in the yellow pages as a tree expert, so he must be. Truth: Anyone can put an ad in the Yellow Pages or call themselves a “tree expert.” Watch out for those who come up to your door and pressure you or offer a deal that is too good to be true as harmful pruning can cost you more in the long run. Iti s best to go with qualified ISA Certified Arborists and request several references. Always require insurance certificates and a detailed, written contract. Myth: The tallest or bushiest tree at the nursery is the best one to buy.
Truth: The tallest tree may actually be weaker than smaller specimens in the same size container. While aesthetic features are important, tree trunk, branch and root system structure are far more critical to the long term success of the tree. Early structural, trunk and branches, or root system problems are often the source of failure, or breakage, of the tree many years later. Tips for tree selection.

Myth: Always stake trees after planting.

Truth: Trees will be stronger if not staked. The movement of young trees by wind strengthens them. If the planting site is constantly windy, stake after planting with loose flat and smooth ties.  Do not use wire or rope. Be sure to remove stakes and ties in six to twelve months after planting.

Myth: Tree wounds can heal.

Truth: Trees cannot heal damaged tissue. Instead their defense mechanism is to seal off damaged areas from healthy areas through a process known as compartmentalization. The damaged tissue will remain isolated within the tree for life, if the tree is a good compartmentalizer.  Some trees, such as maples, are not good compartmentalizers. You should be careful and thoughtful when pruning and while using equipment such as a lawn mower or line trimmer around your tree. Also, do not apply any treatment to wounds as can harm the tree by sealing in moisture.

Myth: Topping is good for trees.

Truth: Topping is one of the most harmful things to do to a tree. In fact, after planting too deep, topping is the next major cause for tree decline and death. Topping creates weak, stressed trees that are unsafe and end up being more costly.

Myth: Trees grow in the forest without maintenance, so they don’t need it in my front yard either.

Truth: Trees in urban areas have to contend with many additional stressors including limited rooting spaces, pollution, dry or compacted soil, limited access to nutrients and moisture, asphalt and concrete, and humans. It is tough being a urban tree, so show them some love. Myth: Trees require too much water. Truth: Trees do require water, however probably not as much as you think.  The San Diego Urban Region Council reports that most San Diego area trees only require about ten dollars worth of water each year. It also depends on the species. There are many beautiful drought tolerant trees to choose from such as the sweet birch. In addition, for most trees it is mostly critical to water them in their early years and during the summer months. See California Urban Forest Council's Waterwise brochure for more tips.