Arborist InsightsTrees

How to avoid killing landscape trees

By December 16, 2021 No Comments

Proper planting

If you want to avoid killing landscape trees, start by planting them properly. Follow the advice of gurus like my mentor Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott, who recommends that only trees go into planting holes. Get rid of strings, wires, and baskets. If you don’t, your new landscape tree could suffer.

A routine tree removal

It happens all the time in landscape maintenance. Residents notice brown trees and call us in to remove them. But I also like to ask why the tree didn’t make it. Did the June ‘heat dome’ push it over the edge; was it planted incorrectly; was it abused by pet dogs or damaged by love struck teenagers?

We can’t tolerate dead trees on site.

The removal was fairly easy so the tree was definitely dead. A shovel did the trick plus an ax for a few stubborn roots. And my questions were answered even before the tree was completely out.


Girdling is like choking at slow speed. When this tree was planted nobody bothered to cut the root ball strings. So, as the tree got bigger, the string got incorporated into the tree. This leads to girdling where nutrients and water can’t pass through and the top eventually dies.

It’s common for the tree to fail at the girdling zone.

Note the string on the left.


Poor planting technique can kill landscape trees which then leads to extra costs. I’m paid hefty fees to remove the tree and recycle it in green waste. And if the strata council decides to replace the tree, it will cost them at least a few hundred dollars.

We also miss the free ecosystem services the tree used to provide for free. Think oxygen, shade, beauty, and many others.

When you plant trees, only put the tree in your planting hole. Remove all strings, plastic and wires. The death of this tree was preventable; simply cut the string after planting.

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