So, there you are getting settled into your camp site for the weekend. The plan is one of total rest and relaxation. The conditions are perfect; bright blue sky and just the right amount of tree cover. You bust out your Eno hammock that you’ve been waiting all season to use. You find the perfect place to hang it, get it hung and climb in with a good book and cold beverage an arm’s length away. Ahhhh…
Stop. Before you get too comfy let’s talk about what hanging that hammock is doing to the tree. Think of the bark on a tree like your skin. It is a vital protective outer layer and when disturbed leaves the tree more susceptible to bugs, disease, and loss of nutrients. Just underneath the bark, there is a layer call the cambium which is the only part of the tree trunk that has living, growing cells. It is what makes the trunk, branches and roots grow thicker over time.
While bark protects like skin, it doesn’t repair the same way. For most skin injuries that are not major our skin cells will repair to close to normal condition where damaged bark on a tree will show the wear and take a while to recover. During this recovery time the damage to the bark could make the tree vulnerable.
In a one-off situation is hanging something from a tree going to kill it? Not likely but over the years continued damage will have a negative affect on the tree. You’ll start to see city parks and local recreation areas tightening the rules around hammocks and slacklines but you should also be aware of how damage to the bark affects the tree when using lawn mowers, weed whackers, and and other powerful landscaping equipment. Be particularly careful around the base of the tree. Use mulch around the base when possible so that you don’t have to get too close when doing yard work. If you notice areas where the bark has been damaged by humans or animals you might want to buy a guard to protect the base and trunk of the tree.
We encourage you to get out there and have fun this summer — whether in your yard at home, at the local park, or celebrating the National Parks 100th Anniversary camping in the wilderness just remember to be kind to the bark! As always, we love to hear your questions, comments and if you have specific needs with your trees please contact our tree service.