Two days ago I stopped by the local gas station/grocery store compound around sunrise to replenish my truck’s fuel tank. As I drove on the service road passing the commercial property I felt something strange tugging at my peripheral vision, like large chocolate chips dotting the edge of my field of view. I took my eyes off the road for a moment, and sure enough, seemingly overnight the landscape had changed. It was as if a very large community of rodents had decided to move in and dig burrows in the landscape, leaving all the soil in regular mounds, perfectly spaced on the lawn. The next moment I saw that each mound had a tree growing out of it. Then the colors of breaking dawn also brought the light of knowledge to me as I realized “It’s spring, and the mulch mounders are at it again”.
First and most importantly, I am not an attorney. What I am is a concerned business owner who has an interest in the law. Having recently read Arboriculture and the Law co-authored by Victor D. Merullo and Michael J. Valentine, I am inclined to share my findings in hopes of answering a few common questions we receive every year dealing with liability basics and the general risks associated with tree ownership.
Quite regularly I encounter trees that are being girdled by some sort of material, mostly guy wires or straps installed during planting, and subsequently forgotten. Sometimes there are other things that catch me by surprise. Usually these are things placed by people and never maintained. For this article I will start with the most common girdling issue and then mention some of the other items.