Friday, July 24, 2009

How To Kill An Oak Tree

So often when I'm driving around I see people trying to kill oak trees (at least I'm assuming they are trying to kill them, since I can't think of any other rational reasons behind what they're doing to them), and not making a good, proper, clean job of it.

So, as a public service to those who are trying to kill oak trees but only doing a half-hearted job of it, here is a list of fool-proof ways to do away with the offending trees:

1. Prune an oak in April, May and June so as to make it susceptible to oak wilt. This isn't guaranteed to kill the tree - in many ways oak wilt is not a very efficient pathogen - but you get bonus points because if the tree does become infected it will likely infect neighboring oaks through interconnecting root systems.

2. Compact the soil in the root zone (which extends out past the longest branches) with heavy equipment (like your car). This reduces water infiltrations and squeezes the air spaces out of the soil, suffocating the roots.

3. Pile additional soil or fill over the root zone. Don't worry, it doesn't take much. In fact, it takes less fill than you think to prevent oak roots from getting the air and water they need.

4. Sever root systems (the closer to the tree - and therefore the higher the % of the root system lost - the better, but remember the root system extends out past the branches so you can trench pretty far from the tree and still do great harm).

And remember, kids: A combo platter of the above is even more effective. But be patient. You might have to wait months or even years to see the results of your handiwork. Oaks are tough old things. Don't worry, sooner or later your efforts will pay off with dead trees.

You're welcome.

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