Lawn Mower Blight – What It Is, and How You Can Prevent It

One of the most common killers of young trees, and one of the most likely things that will cause stunting of growth over a period of time, is lawn mower blight. It isn’t a disease or some sort of bug-borne issue – it is a problem caused by humans and their machines.

Lawn Mower Blight

What Causes Lawn Mower Blight?

Lawn mower blight is caused by young trees being nicked by lawn mowers and, to a lesser extent, weed whackers and trimmers. This includes the strings of trimmers causing gashes, as well as the frames and decks of lawn mowers repeatedly rubbing and bumping against the same are of the tree. Repeated nicking and lashing in a single area will cause a wound in the bark.

This wound to the bark kills off the water and food transport vessels. Bark transfers water from the roots out to the leaves, and sugars from the leaves back into the tree. When the tree cannot be fed, it dies.

This wound in the bark can also become home for micro-organisms that will further damage the tree, possibly causing decay. This will simply kill the tree faster than starving it.

Preventing Lawn Mower Blight

There are a handful of things you can do to prevent lawn mower blight, the key one being to educate, inform, and hold responsible those doing your lawn work. Simply understanding what it is and how it occurs can be enough to prevent it from happening.

If you need to go a bit further, and put physical barriers in the way, the best route is to create a thick circle of mulch around the base of the tree. Be careful not to build a volcano of mulch, as this can create its own set of problems, and also make sure not to push the mulch up against the trunk of the tree. Instead, make sure you have a wide ring that will make sure to keep weeds and grass from growing. This will make it unnecessary to mow or trim too close to the tree.

It mulching is not an option, consider a plastic tree guard or place metal stakes around the base of the tree to prevent a mower or trimmer from being able to brush up against the tree and scar the bark.

Can You Treat Lawn Mower Blight?

Unfortunately, wood is not like flesh, it doesn’t heal itself and replace tissue. Once the bark has been wounded, it will simply harden over, and not replace the destroyed tissue. There’s no way to treat this, and no way to reverse the effects of the scarring. The only way to cope with a tree or bush that has been hit with lawn mower blight is to hope for the best, that it will merely be stunted and not killed.

So take care when working around the young trees in your yard, so that they can grow to their full potential. This will save you the extra cost and labor of having to replace a tree that has been scarred by lawn equipment, and will allow your landscape to develop into a maturity.

About AndrewT

Written by Andrew T for LawnEq - The specialists for Lawn Mower Parts and Small Engine Parts. We offer genuine premium OEM parts for Land Pride, Toro and many more dependable brands.