I have a back deck with 2 cedar trees and 1 elm tree actually growing up through the deck...large holes were created for them to grow through. These trees are very old. The elm especially has a trunk that is at least 2 feet in diameter. I want to put a hanging basket high upon the trunk of the elm tree. Is it ever ok to put nails or screws into trees?
You can put nails or screws into trees, BUT you must be aware of the effects it will have.
Hardware properly installed won’t have a significant affect on the health of the trees, if they are healthy. The problems arise because the trees grow a new layer of wood each year, just beneath the bark. This is how they get larger over time.
When you put a nail in the tree, it will not move from that position. It will not get higher off the ground, and the tree will not push it outward with new growth. The new wood will grow around the nail, eventually ‘swallowing’ it up and embedding it inside the tree. This maens that some day, when the tree finally has to go, someone will be cutting into it with a chain saw. That nail can be a real problem, possibly causing injury to the saw operator. Also, any other hardware attached with the nail can also be embedded, if left in place long enough.
If you choose to hang a plant from the tree, I suggest using screws that are fairly large, so that they can be removed in a few years. They should be stainless steel so they don’t corrode, and strong enough to take a lot of torque when they are removed. New wood growing around them will hold them very tightly. Hex-head rather than slotted screws work best.
Finally, if you are working from a ladder, PLEASE be careful. Have someone hold the ladder firmly, and make sure you are secure and stable. Consider having an arborist do this for you if it is very high or if you are uncertain about doing it.
Russ Carlson, RCA, BCMA
I would say don't do it Jackie. I have hit heaps of ;nails/screws/fences/metal stakes/wire etc. people have put in trees, with a chainsaw and I can not at this moment recall ever having enjoyed it. What are the chances of the screw being removed? If we can put a man on the moon in this day and age, surely we can hang baskets without using nails and screws. N.B. that was said with a smile so as to not offend.
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