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What to do with nails in a mature tree

We have a 40ft Plane tree in our garden, that we inherited when we moved in a few months ago.

A previous owner has hammered nails into the main trunk, perhaps about 20 of them, presumably for lacing Christmas lights to.

I hate to see this and would like to remove them, but don't know if I should. Will taking them out damage the tree or leave it vulnerable to infections?

The tree is huge and seems healthy enough, but the sight of rusty nails in the trunk is not nice.

Thanks

Posts

  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 8,891
    Somewhere in the future a tree surgeon is cursing the previous owner for blunting his chainsaw. I'd take them out.

    Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people
  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,923
    if you can get them out do so, if not then cut them off as close to the trunk possible, that way the bark will heal over the top of them.
    if they've been in for a while its obviously doing the tree no harm.
  • micearguersmicearguers CambridgePosts: 605
    A big crowbar is your best bet, if the nails still have heads on them.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,587
    Best to get them out.  Nails are not good for trees.  They interfere with the flow of sap in the layer under the bark and that effects growth and can also make them sick over time. 
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 8,891
    Well trees will grow around metal...


    Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people
  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 6,335
    The nails aren't made of copper, are they?
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,587
    Trees will grow around objects such as wire but that's not the same as having a petal nail hammered into them and injuring them.  As RG implies, copper is particularly bad for trees.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • They aren't copper, just plain rusty metal, but the heads are good so I think I can pull them out. I will use a piece of wood as a fulcrum to protect the bark. Thanks for your replies
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