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While the idea of tree care might seem pretty straightforward, the fact is there are plenty of ways to go wrong.


Many homeowners run into the pitfalls of either too much or too little intervention regarding the health of their trees. For this reason, our arborists at Treeworks, Inc. have compiled a list of the most common tree care mistakes they have seen homeowners make.

Tree Care Error #1: Improper Planting

The first opportunity for error is in the planting of a tree—the location, method, and protective measures. When selecting a place for a new tree, most homeowners fail to consider what the tree will be like when it is fully grown. For this reason, they plant trees either too close together (leading to mutual overcrowding) or too close to a building (constricting the tree’s growth and creating a potential threat to the building). Before planting, think about the space the tree will need to grow healthily and safely. This will vary based on the type of tree, so it’s important to do your research on the species before you commit.

Tree Care Error #2: Too Mulch!

Once you choose your location, be sure not to neglect or smother your tree in the planting process. Dig a hole deep enough to cover the roots, and loosen up the surrounding soil so that the young roots can easily spread and tap into the nutrients. While mulching can prove extremely helpful for holding moisture and protecting the roots, stacking mulch up to the trunk can actually choke the roots and prevent water and nutrients from reaching them. This also makes the tree more vulnerable to infestations around the collar of the trunk, whereas a thin layer of mulch can deter pests.

Tree Care Error #3: Girdling

Another common mistake is to girdle a tree with a plastic barrier to protect it from lawnmower damage. It might protect against external threats, but over time the plastic can become embedded in the bark, causing serious damage. Instead of a girdle, mulch in the proper quantities can serve the same purpose without the negative side effects.

Tree Care Error #4: Screwing it Up

Lastly, drilling nails or screws into a tree to hang a bird feeder may not show immediate harm, but it creates a wound that can attract pests and lead to disease. The bark is the tree’s natural layer of protection, and any time it is punctured, this weakens the tree’s immunities. This is why tree workers should never climb using spikes unless the intent is to remove the tree altogether. Furthermore, inserting nails or screws into a tree will destroy the value of the wood as the metal will eventually bleed through the entire trunk. So even if you don’t intend to keep a tree forever, keeping metal objects out of it will preserve the integrity of the logs and enable them for other use.

For more tips on the “dos and don’ts” of basic tree care, visit the Tree Care Industry Association’s resource for homeowners.

If you have specific questions or concerns regarding the health of your trees, our team of ISA certified arborists is ready and waiting to help. Schedule an appointment here or call 616.837.1100.

We look forward to serving you!

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