Tag Archive | dead

Deer Rutting = Tree Trunk Damage

As a designer of landscapes, I try to assess all of my landscape material choices wisely. This goes beyond simple choices of sunny or shade plants and moves into specific placement of hardscape or plant material for; flow, accentuation of house architecture, soil characteristics, aesthetics, safety and wildlife considerations. The areas that I work in are heavily populated by deer. I must consider the chance that any plant might get eaten by deer and stick to plants that tend to not be devoured by them (Links Below!)

Sadly, not all things can be assessed for. Some of the funnier instances that I don’t generally plan for is the inability of someone to pull in and out of their own driveway. Landscape lighting tends to get run down fairly often. Funnier still, my cure is to put an outcrop stone in front of it, which then just get pushed by the offending auto into the lighting fixture. At that point we move the fixture, can’t teach old dogs new tricks, it seems.

The situation in the photos was a new one on me. I’d seen it many times while hiking in the forest preserves. In the late fall, male deer feel the need to rub off the velvet on their antlers. It’s called ‘rutting’. Male deer do this for a multitude of reasons; mark territory, show dominance, tell does he’s available… It’s the Tinder of the deer world. This poor Ginkgo didn’t have a chance.

Bucks prefer to rub on trees and shrubs that have smooth bark and are one-half to four inches in diameter. All bucks will rub saplings less than two inches in diameter, however only older bucks will regularly rub trees six or more inches in diameter. Seeing a large-diameter tree that shows signs of steady rubbing, is a sure sign that at least one older, buck frequents the area.

In the South and Southeast, bucks seem to prefer aromatic species, such as cedar and sassafras. However, they’ll also readily rub alders, eastern juniper, cherries, witch hazel, winged sumac, striped maple, sourwood and pines.

The Northeast and Upper Great Lakes region bucks like trembling aspen best as the species has a smooth, soft bark that is easily stripped. The inner wood is very light in color and has long-lasting brilliance once it’s exposed. Along with the aspen, red maple, sumac, black cherry, balsam fir, pines and willows are frequently rubbed; whereas thick barked trees like, sugar maple, ironwood, beech and paper birch are usually avoided.

Why this action of scraping the trunk surface is so bad is that just under the bark is the xylem which carries water and minerals from the roots to the leaves and the phloem which carries manufactured food, like sugars, from the leaves to the roots. If the xylem or phloem is severed all the way around the tree (girdling the tree), food cannot be carried to the roots and they will eventually die, causing the whole tree to die.

It’s sad, however there is really no way to predict this happening. Clients aren’t going to circle their trees with protective fencing either. Unfortunately, we’ll just replace this tree and hope that it will not be bothered again.

Deer Proof Trees

Deer Proof Shrubs

Deer Proof Perennials

Β© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Tree Protection Gone Wrong

I work for a design / build landscape construction company. Part of my job is to pull permits for the installations of the hardscapes (patios, driveways, walks, pergolas, lighting, etc) along with tree permits. For me, the tree permits are the ones I’m most involved with. Sometimes, I am the arborist that visits the property before construction to determine the condition, size* and type of trees on the lot. I look at what the architect has designed for the property and determine how it will effect the trees around the site. I then produce what is called a tree survey. These surveys determine which trees stay and which trees go. My tree survey then goes to the city to determine how many inches of trees will have to be removed from the property. *Size is determined by measuring the width of the trunk at breast height or ‘Diameter at Breast Height’ (DBH), which has been determined to be 4′ 5″ (1.38m).

The city forester will look at the survey and calculate how many trees were in decent condition, of good quality or of decent size were removed. This number will translate into an inch amount the client will need to replace on their property or pay the tree inch fees. Many times, the return amount could be in upwards of 100″. Not only do the clients need to return 100″ to the property, every municipality has a different list to follow for the trees that actually count towards tree return inches. Many of these trees are native; oaks, hackberry, sycamore, tupelo, tulip trees and spruce are commonly on the approved list. However, many of my clients request chanticleer pear lined driveways and screening arborvitae are not on the list.

The trees on the survey that are marked to stay must be maintained to be able to survive construction. ‘Tree Fencing’ must be installed around the trees that are to remain. Placement of this fencing is usually 1′ foot away from the tree for each inch of DBH. As you can see in the photos below, this fencing is clearly not as far away from the trunk as it should be..  my guess these trees are about 18″ DBH requiring 18′ around the them. Let’s ice this cake with a bunch of construction waste leaning up against the trunk. The last photo shows a large amount of soil piled up on a nearby tree.

Usually, the city forester has to visit the site and approve the location of the tree fencing. I can’t imagine this was the original location (I did not do this survey). As you can see, there are many ruts from construction equipment all around the fencing. This traffic compacts the soil and suffocates the roots of the trees. It’s a slow death for the tree. A few years after the home is built, these trees will start declining and most likely will need to be removed. As these are very close to the foundation of the new home, along with being fairly large, it will be a costly removal.

Hopefully, this information will be helpful to anyone having any construction done and want to keep their trees!

 

Β© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl