A Nail in the Coffin of Your Tree: Why Nails Spell Death for Trees
Trees offer countless benefits to mankind. They cool the air, they absorb carbon dioxide, and they give us shade, privacy and noise reduction. In Thailand, the Thais believe spirits reside in certain trees and so tie colourful material around them to keep the spirits happy.
The benefits of trees are limitless. However, one thing that trees cannot be is signposts. In other words, nails or screws are likely to kill a tree, probably slowly, over time as disease and pests take advantage of the damage. If you are planning to build a treehouse, a tree swing, or place decking around your tree, don't pierce your tree with nails or screws in the process.
Nails Open the Door to Infection
When you hammer a nail into a tree, you pierce its bark and its cambium layer. This is important for two reasons. The first is that the cambium layer, which lies just beneath the bark, is the medium by which trees transport nutrients from the leaves to the roots. Too many nails in one area then can disrupt this process and deprive a tree of its food source.
A single nail might seem innocuous, but if the nail penetrates deep enough into the tree, through to the xylem layer, it may provide harmful pathogens with access to the tree. The xylem layer contains tubes that transport water from a tree's roots to the rest of the tree. If a harmful fungus gains entry and uses the nail as a bridge, that fungus could invade the whole tree.
Pests Can Use Wounds to Gain Entry
Insects such as bark borers can also use wounds to gain entry to a tree's vulnerable inner layer. The females lay their eggs around wounds or in cracks and these could later lead to an infestation.
Nails Put Humans at Risk Too
If you have used nails or screws to build a tree house or hang a hammock, for example, you could also be putting the lives of people in danger. While the tree may die slowly, as it dies, it becomes structurally unsound. Branches will die or weaken considerably, meaning people using swings, hammocks or structures will later be at risk of accidents.
Consider too, the risk to an arborist who might later encounter the nail while pruning the tree. If you are about to build a swing or use your tree to hang or support something, do not use nails as you won't just harm the tree, but you may also harm people. For more information on trees and tree removal, contact a professional.