Threats to Trees

Trees in a natural forest setting take care of themselves.  Their leaves fall to the ground and decompose creating soil that is high in organic matter, providing nutrition and retaining water after a rain.  Trees also plant themselves where conditions are good for their growth and survival and, as a group, share the burden of the wind during a storm.

This not the case for the urban forest.  Humans often plant trees where they want them to be – not necessarily where they should be.  The urban environment itself is a threat to trees.  Compacted soils, artificial surfaces that do not absorb water,  summer heat, physical damage to limb and root all take a toll on health and lifespan and may make trees more susceptible to insect damage and disease. This is why urban forests need planning, management and care.

Tree Stewards work to reduce stresses and improve conditions for trees where possible and to educate the public in proper planting and care.

Photo Credit: John Murden

Pruning crepe myrtles in Church Hill. Pruning the low branches on street trees prevents damage by vehicles and provides room for pedestrians on the sidewalk.


Photo Credit: John Murden

Balled and burlapped tree ready for planting. Trees must be carefully and properly planted if they are to live long, healthy lives.  Choosing the right site for the for species,  planting at the proper depth and watering for the first two years are essential.


Photo Credit: Kelly Joyce

Willow oak on Main Street. Some trees will thrive the urban environment if they happen to be in just the right place.  Many of our street trees have only very small spaces between the sidewalk and street. This tree has more room than most to spread its roots.

 Major Threats to Trees

Asian Longhorned Beetle

Crepe Myrtle Bark Scale

Dutch Elm Disease
Emerald Ash Borer
English Ivy
Mower Damage
Stem Girdling Roots
Summer Drought
Thousand Cankers
Volcano Mulching