How to Protect Trees from Lawnmower Damage: Tips and Techniques

Trees are a valuable asset to any landscape, providing shade, beauty, and numerous environmental benefits. However, these assets can be damaged by lawnmowers, which can cause severe harm to the tree’s trunk, roots, and bark. To prevent lawnmower damage to trees, homeowners must take proactive measures to protect their trees from harm.

Understanding the causes and effects of lawnmower damage to trees is the first step in protecting them. Lawnmower damage can occur when the mower blade strikes the tree’s trunk, roots, or bark, causing wounds that can lead to disease, pest infestation, and decay. Over time, these wounds can weaken the tree’s structure, making it more susceptible to breakage and failure. By understanding the risks associated with lawnmower damage, homeowners can take steps to prevent it from occurring in the first place.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the causes and effects of lawnmower damage is crucial to protecting trees.
  • Physical barriers and guards can be used to protect trees from lawnmower damage.
  • Cultural practices, such as proper tree selection and placement, can help prevent lawnmower damage.

Understanding Lawnmower Damage to Trees

A lawnmower is approaching a tree, with a protective barrier around the base. The tree is unharmed, with lush green foliage and no signs of damage

Lawnmower damage to trees is a common problem that can cause serious harm to trees. The damage is usually caused by the blade of the mower coming into contact with the bark of the tree, which can result in wounds that can be fatal to the tree if not treated properly. Here are some ways to understand and prevent lawnmower damage to trees:

Understanding the Causes of Lawnmower Damage

Lawnmower damage to trees can occur in a number of ways, including:

  • Direct impact: When the mower blade strikes the tree trunk or branches, it can cause wounds that can lead to decay and disease.
  • Indirect impact: When the mower blade hits rocks, sticks, or other debris, it can cause them to fly towards the tree and cause damage to the bark or branches.
  • Soil compaction: When the mower repeatedly passes over the same area, it can compress the soil around the tree roots, making it difficult for the tree to absorb water and nutrients.

Identifying the Signs of Lawnmower Damage

The signs of lawnmower damage can vary depending on the severity of the injury. Some common signs include:

  • Wounds or scars on the bark of the tree
  • Broken or damaged branches
  • Discolored or wilted leaves
  • Reduced growth or vigor

Preventing Lawnmower Damage

Preventing lawnmower damage to trees requires a combination of careful planning and maintenance. Here are some tips to help prevent lawnmower damage:

  • Mark the area around the tree with stakes or flags to indicate where the roots are located.
  • Use a mulching mower to reduce the amount of debris that can be thrown towards the tree.
  • Raise the cutting height of the mower to avoid hitting the tree trunk or branches.
  • Avoid mowing too close to the tree trunk or roots.
  • Use hand tools to trim grass or weeds around the base of the tree.
  • Avoid using heavy equipment, such as tractors or ATVs, near trees.

By understanding the causes and signs of lawnmower damage to trees, and taking steps to prevent it, homeowners can help protect their trees from harm and ensure their long-term health and vitality.

Tree Selection and Placement

A tree is carefully selected and planted in a well-kept yard, surrounded by a protective barrier to prevent lawnmower damage

Choosing Resilient Tree Species

When selecting trees for a lawn, it is important to choose species that are resilient and can withstand the rigors of lawn maintenance, including mowing. Some species have thin bark that is easily damaged by lawn equipment, while others have shallow roots that can be damaged by mowing or other lawn activities.

Some examples of resilient tree species that can withstand lawn equipment damage include oak, maple, and hickory trees. These trees have thick bark that can withstand damage from lawn equipment, as well as deep root systems that are less likely to be damaged by mowing.

Strategic Tree Placement

In addition to choosing resilient tree species, it is important to strategically place trees in the lawn to minimize the risk of damage from lawn equipment. Trees should be placed away from areas where mowing or other lawn activities are likely to occur.

For example, trees can be placed in islands or raised beds in the lawn, away from the main mowing area. This not only helps to protect the trees from damage, but it also provides a visual focal point in the lawn.

Another strategy is to use ground covers or other low-maintenance plants around the base of the trees. This can help to protect the roots from damage, while also providing a visually appealing landscape design.

By choosing resilient tree species and strategically placing trees in the lawn, homeowners can help to protect their trees from damage caused by lawn equipment.

Physical Barriers and Guards

Trees surrounded by sturdy barriers, with guards placed around them to prevent lawnmower damage

When it comes to protecting trees from lawnmower damage, using physical barriers and guards is a great way to prevent any accidental damage. Here are two effective methods to consider:

Installing Tree Guards

Tree guards are a physical barrier that can be used to protect the base of a tree from lawnmower damage. They are typically made of metal or plastic and can be installed around the trunk of the tree. Tree guards should be installed at least 2-3 feet above the ground to provide adequate protection.

Tree guards are available in different lengths and can be cut to fit the size of the tree. They are easy to install and can be secured in place with stakes or screws. Tree guards are a great option for protecting young trees that are still growing and developing.

Using Mulch Rings

Mulch rings are another effective way to protect trees from lawnmower damage. A mulch ring is a layer of mulch that is placed around the base of the tree. The mulch helps to absorb any impact from the lawnmower and prevents the blades from hitting the tree.

Mulch rings also provide other benefits to the tree, such as retaining moisture and preventing weeds from growing. When creating a mulch ring, it is important to avoid piling the mulch against the trunk of the tree, as this can lead to rot and other issues.

Overall, using physical barriers and guards such as tree guards and mulch rings can help protect trees from lawnmower damage. By taking these simple steps, you can ensure the health and longevity of your trees for years to come.

Lawnmower Operation and Safety

A lawnmower moves towards a tree, but stops short to avoid damaging its trunk. The operator uses caution to protect the tree from harm

Proper Lawnmower Usage

When it comes to using a lawnmower, there are several things to keep in mind to ensure that trees and other plants are not damaged. First, it is important to make sure that the mower blades are set at the correct height. Blades that are set too low can easily damage tree roots and bark, while blades that are set too high may leave excessive grass, which can attract pests and disease.

Second, it is important to avoid mowing too close to trees. This can be achieved by creating a buffer zone around the tree with mulch or other barriers. Additionally, using visible markers can help ensure that the mower operator knows where to stop and start mowing.

Finally, it is important to avoid mowing during periods when the tree bark “slips”. This typically occurs during early spring and early fall, when trees are in the process of shedding leaves. During these times, the bark is more vulnerable to damage, and it is best to avoid mowing near trees altogether.

Lawnmower Maintenance

In addition to proper usage, it is important to maintain lawnmowers to ensure that they are functioning properly and not causing damage to trees. This includes keeping the blades sharp, as dull blades can tear and damage bark, and ensuring that the mower is properly lubricated and free of debris.

Regular maintenance can also help prevent accidents that may damage trees. For example, checking the oil and fuel levels before use can help prevent engine fires that can quickly spread to nearby trees. Additionally, checking the mower’s tires and brakes can help prevent accidents that may cause the mower to veer off course and damage trees.

By following proper lawnmower usage and maintenance, homeowners and landscapers can help protect trees and other plants from damage caused by mowers.

Cultural Practices for Tree Health

A tree surrounded by a protective barrier, with a lawnmower kept at a safe distance. Signs indicate cultural practices for tree health

When it comes to maintaining the health of trees, there are several cultural practices that can be implemented to ensure they remain healthy and strong. These practices include proper watering and fertilization, as well as pruning and care.

Watering and Fertilization

Watering and fertilization are essential to maintaining the health of trees. Trees that are not watered or fertilized properly are more susceptible to disease and insect infestations. It is important to water trees deeply and regularly, especially during dry spells. In addition, fertilizing trees with the appropriate nutrients can help to promote healthy growth and prevent disease.

When watering trees, it is important to water them deeply and infrequently. This means watering the soil around the tree to a depth of at least 6 inches. It is also important to avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot and other problems. Fertilization should be done in the spring or fall, and should be tailored to the specific needs of the tree.

Pruning and Care

Pruning and care are also important cultural practices for maintaining the health of trees. Pruning helps to remove dead or diseased branches, as well as promote healthy growth. It is important to prune trees properly, as improper pruning can lead to damage and disease.

When pruning trees, it is important to use the appropriate tools and techniques. This includes using sharp, clean pruning shears and making clean cuts at the appropriate angle. It is also important to avoid over-pruning, as this can weaken the tree and make it more susceptible to disease.

In addition to pruning, other care practices include mulching around the base of the tree to protect the roots, as well as avoiding damage from lawnmowers and other equipment. By implementing these cultural practices, trees can remain healthy and strong for years to come.

Designing a Lawnmower-Friendly Landscape

A tree surrounded by a ring of mulch, with a clear border between the grass and the mulch to prevent lawnmower damage

Landscape Design Considerations

When designing a landscape that is friendly to lawnmowers and other machinery, there are several factors to consider. First, it’s important to choose the right type of grass for your region. Some types of grass are more resilient than others and can withstand the occasional run-in with a lawnmower. Additionally, it’s important to keep the grass at a reasonable height. Grass that is too tall can be difficult to mow and can cause damage to the lawnmower.

Another consideration is the placement of trees and other landscaping elements. Trees that are located too close to the edge of the lawn can be difficult to mow around and can also be damaged by the lawnmower. It’s important to leave enough space between trees and the edge of the lawn to allow for easy mowing.

Incorporating Hardscaping Elements

In addition to choosing the right type of grass and carefully placing trees and other landscaping elements, incorporating hardscaping elements can also help protect trees from lawnmower damage. For example, installing a border around the base of a tree can help prevent the lawnmower from coming into contact with the trunk.

Another option is to install a raised bed around the base of the tree. This not only protects the tree from lawnmower damage, but it also provides additional space for planting flowers or other landscaping elements.

Overall, designing a lawnmower-friendly landscape requires careful consideration of the type of grass, the placement of trees and other landscaping elements, and the incorporation of hardscaping elements. By taking these factors into account, homeowners can create a beautiful and functional landscape that is easy to maintain and protects trees from damage.

Educating Lawn Care Professionals

A professional demonstrating proper tree protection from lawnmower damage

Lawn care professionals play a crucial role in maintaining the health of trees in residential and commercial landscapes. However, many professionals are not trained to properly care for trees, resulting in unintentional damage to trunks, roots, and branches. To protect trees from lawnmower damage, it is important to educate lawn care professionals on proper tree care techniques.

Proper Mowing Techniques

Lawn care professionals should be educated on proper mowing techniques to avoid damaging tree trunks. They should be instructed to avoid mowing too close to the base of the tree, as this can damage the bark and expose the tree to pests and diseases. Additionally, professionals should be trained to use a push mower or a string trimmer with a guard to avoid damaging the tree trunk.


Mulching is an effective way to protect trees from lawnmower damage. Lawn care professionals should be instructed to mulch around the base of the tree to create a barrier between the tree and the mower. Mulch also helps retain moisture in the soil, which is essential for the health of the tree.

Tree Guards

Tree guards are another effective way to protect trees from lawnmower damage. Professionals should be trained to install tree guards around the base of the tree to prevent accidental damage from mowers and trimmers. Hardware cloth and burlap are two common materials used for tree guards.


Communication is key in protecting trees from lawnmower damage. Lawn care professionals should be encouraged to communicate with property owners about the location of trees and any special care instructions. Additionally, property owners should be encouraged to mark the location of trees to avoid accidental damage.

By educating lawn care professionals on proper tree care techniques, we can protect trees from lawnmower damage and ensure their health and longevity.

Monitoring and Assessing Tree Health

A tree with a neatly trimmed grass surrounding it, with a clear boundary to protect it from lawnmower damage

One of the most important things to do when protecting trees from lawnmower damage is to monitor and assess their health regularly. This will help identify any potential issues early on and take necessary actions to prevent further damage.

To monitor tree health, it’s important to keep an eye on the tree’s overall appearance, including the color and texture of its leaves, the presence of any pests or diseases, and any signs of damage or stress. A simple visual inspection can often reveal a lot about a tree’s health.

In addition to visual inspections, it’s also a good idea to conduct regular soil tests to ensure that the tree is receiving the proper nutrients it needs to thrive. Soil tests can help identify any nutrient deficiencies or excesses that may be affecting the tree’s health.

Resistance drilling and high-tech non-invasive techniques can also be used to obtain a full tree risk assessment. This can help identify any potential hazards or risks associated with the tree, such as weakened branches or rotting roots.

By monitoring and assessing tree health regularly, homeowners can take necessary actions to protect their trees from lawnmower damage and ensure that they continue to thrive for years to come.

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