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  • Writer's pictureJessica Corner

The Arborist's Perspective: Why Round Up (Glyphosate) Has No Place in Tree Care

In the realm of arboriculture, where the health and vitality of trees are paramount, every decision regarding tree care must be made with precision and consideration. One contentious topic that often arises is the use of glyphosate, commonly found in herbicides like Roundup. While touted for its effectiveness in controlling weeds, glyphosate carries significant risks and consequences, especially when applied in proximity to trees. As arborists in Barrie, Ontario dedicated to the well-being of trees and the environment, here are the reasons why we believe glyphosate should be avoided in tree care practices:

two hands cupped full of soil

  1. Root Damage: Trees rely on their root systems for stability, nutrient uptake, and water absorption. Glyphosate, when applied to the soil, can be absorbed by tree roots, leading to damage and potential decline in tree health. Even low concentrations of glyphosate can disrupt root growth and function, compromising the tree's ability to sustain itself.

  2. Soil Disruption: Healthy soil is the foundation of thriving trees, fostering a complex ecosystem of beneficial microorganisms and organic matter. Glyphosate can disrupt this delicate balance, harming soil microbiota and reducing its fertility. Over time, repeated glyphosate applications can degrade soil quality, impeding the growth and development of trees.

  3. Non-Selective Nature: Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide, meaning it kills indiscriminately, targeting both weeds and desirable vegetation. In an arboricultural context, this poses a significant risk, as glyphosate overspray or runoff can unintentionally harm nearby trees and shrubs. Accidental exposure to glyphosate can weaken trees, making them more susceptible to pests, diseases, and environmental stressors.

  4. Tree Health Concerns: Trees treated with glyphosate may exhibit symptoms of distress, including leaf discolouration, premature leaf drop, and stunted growth. Prolonged exposure to glyphosate can compromise the overall health and vitality of trees, reducing their resilience to environmental challenges such as drought, extreme temperatures, and invasive pests.

  5. Environmental Impact: Glyphosate has come under scrutiny for its potential environmental hazards, including toxicity to aquatic life, pollinators, and other non-target organisms. Runoff from glyphosate-treated areas can contaminate water bodies, posing risks to ecosystems and human health. As stewards of the environment, arborists have a responsibility to choose tree care practices that minimize harm to the natural world.

  6. Resistant Weeds: Prolonged and widespread use of glyphosate has led to the emergence of glyphosate-resistant weeds, creating a vicious cycle of escalating herbicide use. This phenomenon not only undermines the effectiveness of glyphosate but also exacerbates environmental damage and poses challenges for sustainable weed management strategies.

  7. Alternative Solutions: In place of glyphosate-based herbicides, arborists can employ a range of alternative solutions for weed control that are safer for trees and the environment. These may include manual weed removal, mulching, ground cover plantings, and targeted herbicide applications with less harmful active ingredients.

dandelions growing in green grass

In conclusion, the use of glyphosate in tree care practices presents significant risks and challenges that outweigh its perceived benefits. As arborists, it is our duty to prioritize the long-term health and well-being of trees, ecosystems, and communities. By adopting holistic and environmentally responsible approaches to tree care, we can ensure a sustainable future where trees thrive without the need for harmful chemicals like glyphosate. Let us nurture our trees with care, respect, and conscientious stewardship, safeguarding their beauty and benefits for generations to come.

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