Monday, February 16, 2015

Check your Straps

Trees, love mine and no doubt you appreciate yours too. They increase property values and enhance a landscape more than a new gas grill or a donsy of gnomes.  We have over thirty trees in our landscape. One of our linden trees is on life support, something is causing the decline. Maybe it happened years ago (we didn't plant it) or perhaps it went through years of drought stress. Our arborist checked it for girdled roots, plus it has been tested for verticillium wilt, the test was negative.  We've had city foresters and other tree experts take a look and no one seems to know what's wrong with the tree. Other than keeping it watered, we've done what we can. At some point we'll remove the tree.  But I digress, the main reason for this blog is to remind you to check your trees that are staked with posts, wire and straps.

Linden Tree in Decline
Three years ago we planted five HOT WINGS® Tatarian Maple, Acer tataricum ‘Garann’ trees. Four are single stem with one large clump type.  We adore these trees.  They are part of the Plant Select® program which means they have been tested and chosen to do well in our area.  Plus their summer bright red samaras are a sight to enjoy and very welcome that time of the year when most trees are just hanging out being green.  As they describe on the Plant Select® website, it looks like Christmas in July with the pretty red helicopters decorating the tree. 

Photo by Pat Hayward
One of the smaller single stem trees was hit hard with snow a year ago, so we staked it with one nylon strap to help it straighten up.  Ordinarily these trees don't need staking, all the others are doing fine, but this one was planted on a slope near a fence and it just needed a temporary helping hand.  Here's what happened.  In just one year the strap dug pretty deeply into the tree trunk and I didn't even notice it until my tree professional spotted it as we walked the property a few weeks ago surveying what needed to be pruned.  

I felt terribly, first because I should have been on top of how tight the strap was and how much damage it was causing. It was also positioned too high on the trunk of the tree. This is why it is so important to walk around your landscape through the year checking for trouble spots. Dave, my arborist suggested moving the strap down, but keeping it in place through the rest of the winter. I moved and corrected the strap immediately, it took me less than five minutes. Please, don't let this happen to your trees. Had I kept the strap on much longer the tree trunk could have been further damaged or girdled to the point of causing tree death.  Always use nylon grommeted straps, do not use hoses with wires, rope or anything that will dig or cut into the tree or bark.  

Check out these fact sheets for additional information on staking trees -

Tree Staking

The Myth of Staking

Tree Strap Damage (it left a mark and was digging in to the bark)





Moved strap down where it should have been

1 comment:

  1. Thanks. I have walked down our old street and rescued trees by cutting their girdles forgotten by the city.

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