Protecting Trees

Protect your tree’s health by avoiding damage to the tree's roots, trunk or crown. Quite often, people are unwittingly causing damage to a tree by everyday behaviors and habits. Many of us don’t realize that trees need care and attention throughout their lifespan.

Protect the roots from:

  • Compacting equipment, vehicles, material storage and foot traffic.
  • Trenching for utilities or irrigation installation and repair.
  • Changing soil grade by cutting or filling
  • Grading, tearing or grubbing the surrounding soil.
  • Contamination by runoff containing petroleum products and harsh chemicals from driveways, sidewalks and patios.
  • Impervious parking lots, driveways and walkways that increase soil compaction and reduce permeability.
  • A tree’s most important roots lie directly under the tree’s canopy, the critical root zone. Be sure to preserve this area as much as possible.

Protect the trunk, limbs and branches from:

  • Vehicles and heavy equipment that tear bark and break limbs and branches.
  • Lawn mowers and weed trimmers that damage the protective bark.
  • Nails, screws, staples or spikes that hold up signs and notices.
  • Chains, ropes or wires that secure objects to the trunk and limbs.
  • Fire or excessive heat that breaks down the protective bark layer.

Protect Your Tree from Wildlife, Pets, Insect Pests and Diseases

  • Wildlife browsing and antler rub
  • Digging and chewing pets
  • Insect pests and diseases that attack weak, unhealthy and vulnerable trees

Tree Protection Tips:

Protective Tree Wrap.JPG
  • Mulch rings around tree trunks have multiple protective benefits:
  • Mulch keeps soil temperatures cool; roots prefer cool, constant temperatures.
  • Mulch keeps weeds and grass from competing with the tree’s roots for water and nutrients
  • Mulch keeps the grass that requires damaging mowing or trimming from growing next to the trunk.
  • Use wire caging/fencing to keep mowers, weed trimmers, pets and wildlife at bay.
  • Wrap the trunks of young and thin-barked trees late in the summer before rut. Remember to remove the wraps after the chance of damage from antler rub; tree trunks need air and sunlight, too!
  • Fence off the critical root zone under the tree canopy during construction to protect the entire tree from construction activity and potential damage.
  • The area under the tree canopy is not meant for storage. Trees cannot thrive with compacted root zones.
  • If roots must be disturbed, be sure to keep the area damaged to a minimum and keep the rest of the roots well watered.
  • Not all insects are pests; some are beneficial! Be sure to identify an insect before addressing the issue. A healthy tree can fend off most pests.
  • A tree that is watered regularly is better able to protect itself and is more resilient.
  • Plant trees where they will not interfere with infrastructure or become an obstruction at full size.
  • Protect the tree from the spread of disease or further damage. Remove dead, damaged and diseased limbs and branches any time of year.
  • Disinfect the pruning tools between cuts of diseased branches to keep the disease from spreading.
  • If you can’t identify the insect or the disease, consult the experts! Contact the Missoula County Extension and Weed District or the Missoula Urban Forestry Division.
  • Observe and monitor your trees regularly for early detection, so any potential issues that may affect overall tree health and vitality can be addressed.