Trees add immeasurable value to our homes, offering shade, beauty, and even increasing property value. However, certain home care activities, often conducted with the best intentions, can inadvertently harm these gentle giants. Understanding how our everyday actions can negatively affect trees is crucial for their health and longevity. This blog outlines key home care activities that could be detrimental to your trees, with a special focus on practices that encourage fungus development and attract harmful wildlife.

1 – Overwatering

While trees need water to thrive, too much of it can lead to root rot and create a breeding ground for fungal diseases. Overwatering not only suffocates the tree’s roots by depriving them of oxygen but also encourages the growth of harmful fungi. Some signs of overwatering trees include wilting or dropped leaves, stunted growth and the more obvious muddy soil. This moist environment is ideal for the development of fungal pathogens like Phytophthora, which can be deadly for trees. 

2 – Improper Mulching

Mulch is often used to retain moisture in the soil and suppress weeds, but when applied improperly, it can harm trees. Piling mulch against the tree’s trunk, known as “volcano mulching,” retains excessive moisture on the bark, facilitating fungal infections and attracting pests. The correct way to mulch is to create a donut shape around the tree, leaving a gap between the mulch and the trunk.

3 – Incorrect Pruning

Pruning is essential for removing dead or diseased branches and encouraging healthy growth. However, improper pruning techniques can cause significant stress to trees, leading to vulnerabilities. Over-pruning, or topping, can remove too much of the tree’s canopy, weakening it and making it more susceptible to pest infestation and fungal diseases. Always use clean, sharp tools and prune during the appropriate season for the species.

4 – Lawn Chemicals

Fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides used for lawn care can have unintended consequences on nearby trees. Chemical runoff from heavy rains or overwatering can leach into the tree’s root zone, causing damage or death. Furthermore, some chemicals can alter soil pH to levels that are harmful to trees or encourage the growth of certain fungi.

5 – Compacting the Soil

Activities such as heavy foot traffic, construction, or driving vehicles near tree roots can compact the soil, reducing its porosity. Compacted soil limits root growth and decreases oxygen and water availability, stressing the tree and making it more susceptible to diseases and pests. Avoid activities that compact the soil around your trees, and consider aerating compacted areas to improve conditions.

6 – Planting Too Close to the Tree

While integrating trees into your landscape design is appealing, planting other plants too close to a tree can have detrimental effects. Overcrowding can lead to competition for nutrients and water, stressing the tree and making it more vulnerable to fungal infections and pests. Ensure there’s adequate space between your trees and other plants to promote healthy growth.

7 – Neglecting to Clean Up Fallen Tree Debris

Leaving fallen leaves, fruit, and branches around the base of your tree can attract pests and create a habitat for fungal growth. Regularly cleaning up this debris helps prevent the development of fungal diseases and deters pests from taking residence in your tree.


Caring for the trees in your yard involves more than just the occasional watering or pruning. It requires a mindful approach to everyday activities that could potentially harm them. By avoiding these common missteps, you can protect your trees from unnecessary stress, fungal diseases, and pests. Keep an eye out for the signs of overwatering trees, soil issues, fallen tree debris and poor trimming. Remember, healthy trees are less likely to attract harmful wildlife and are more capable of withstanding the occasional onslaught from bugs and diseases. If you’re ever in doubt about the best care practices for your trees, consulting with a professional arborist can provide you with the guidance needed to keep your arboreal companions thriving for years to come.

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