Common Tree Problems
Whether in the lawn or nearby in a garden bed, large roots cause numerous problems; especially those at or near the surface. Casaurina, Evergreen Alder, Ficus and Liquidambar are a few examples of trees with extensive root systems but there are many more that can cause problems with your garden.
This is another big problem; Robinias for example will send up suckers from the root stock if the roots are damaged or disturbed, causing saplings to spring up all over the place. Mowing, whipper snipping and digging can actually cause this problem (Ed. How? What is the mechanism? Needs explaining.) The roots also sucker if they hit an obstacle. In an average size garden it’s best to avoid this type of tree completely.
Whipper snipping close to tree trunks can easily lead to ring barking-the removal of bark around the base of the trunk. This can lead to the death of the tree so you are advised to keep a safe distance away from the trunk.
Trees and lawns will compete for water, nutrients and light. Thinning grass around the base of a tree is very common. Choosing a shade tolerant grass will help with this but there are limits to how much shade any lawn grass will tolerate.
In many cases it is better to give the base of the tree a wide berth, keeping the lawn away from the trunk and spreading mulch instead. This reduces competition and eliminates the chance of Ring Barking when whipper snipping, or damaging surface roots when mowing. It looks good too, emphasising the base of the tree.
When installing a new lawn try and avoid digging out important tree roots or adding soil over them to help with the levels. Extra soil will change the oxygen/carbon dioxide ratio around the roots, upsetting the delicate balance of these two important gases and lead to problems, including potentially the death of the tree which would be sad, and inconvenient!.
If you have a special tree and are unsure what to do, call in an arborist for expert advice.
Keeping your lawn slightly longer in the shaded areas under trees will keep it in better shape especially in winter. Never remove more than one third of the leaf, and leaving a few clippings won’t hurt either. Obviously a shade tolerant grass is the best option.