Living closer to nature is the most preferred way of relaxation. That too in a hammock is an additional pleasure. Hammocks and trees always go together. A hammock in a camping site is of no use without the trees.
But what if our hammock is doing more damage to the trees than good? Do hammocks hurt trees?
Well, Yes, hammocks can hurt trees. They can stop or decrease the growth of the trees. The anchor and suspension system on hammocks have the potential for superficial damage on tree bark if done incorrectly. In long-term, severe cases, the rope can cut through or dig into the bark, exposing the inner layers to disease and insects, or in rare cases, girdling. In popular areas, wear can occur more rapidly when people use rope anchor systems. Because of this, some parks have banned hammocks completely.
Simple Solution: If the hammock is set up properly it can be eco-friendly. Use wide webbing straps— between 1 and 2 in (2.5 to 5 cm). Using wide webbing straps instead of rope minimizes or eliminates any damage that could be caused. Webbing straps help distribute the suspension force over a wider area.’ In general, trees are very resilient. Their bark is designed to withstand all kinds of abuse. including low-intensity forest fires, wood-boring insects, animal scoring, and lightning strikes.
However, young trees have thin bark and some mature trees have soft bark that can show compression marks after a single hang. It is important, therefore, to use wide webbing straps every time because it expresses goodwill, respect, and helps ensure that hammocks are allowed in parks and recreational areas for years to come. There are several tree safe methods (which we call as Leave No Trace Camping) which can be followed to prevent damages to the trees.
How hammocks hurt trees? (The vital tree bark)
Tree bark is like exposed skin. It has multiple layers inside. And most vital of them is the cambium which is a layer of delicate meristematic tissue between the inner bark and the wood, which produces new layers on the inside in stems, roots, etc., thus originating all secondary growth in plants. It acts as the blood that helps with the flow of nutrients in and out of the plant. The cambium is the main growth tissue in the stems and roots of many plants.
Damage to the bark of a tree not only can expose the tree to infections but also reduces its growth by minimizing the flow of nutrients.
Choosing the right kinds of trees for hammocking
Choosing the tree that can hold your hammock without affecting the tree trunk is essential. This depends on the age, structure, and size of the tree.
A mature tree is recommended preferably with a diameter of more than 6 inches. Also for the obvious reasons you cannot tie your hammock to shrubs or trees with softwood. Similarly dead, old barks and diseased trunks should be avoided.
Oak and palm tree with a sturdy trunk can be the best choices for hanging the hammock.
Tree-tying strategy for your hammock
Yes, you can harm a tree if you are not careful what you use for your suspension system. And you have to be sure that the damage is not fatal. Here are some of the strategies to tie hammocks to the trees without hurting the trees.
Ropes are not too eco-friendly. They can cause rope scars leading to diseases for the bark. In regular use, the ropes are pulled so tightly that they hurt the bark and then the inner soft tissues of the plant. It creates open injuries that can do internal damage to the bark.
Tying ropes can cause majority damage as it can also reduce the trees’ ability to circulate nutrients over the affected area and eventually kill the tree.
Let’s say you’re planning for a casual hammock i.e for a short time. Then the use of thick ropes is advisable. This causes less damage to the trees. Also, you can be cautious and use soft cover pads to protect the trunk.
What if you are still unsure?
You can always consult tree professionals (arborists) for more details on preventing tree damage before using them to tie hammocks.
Tree Saver Straps – A good way to go!
Yes, we find this as the most suitable way of safe and ecofriendly hammocking.
This method with special tree saver straps minimizes tree damage. These are wide and usually made of nylon or polyester webbing. They prevent bark abrasion thus reducing tree girdling and preventing damage to the tree bark. Using the loop of the strap material instead of a knot means it has room to grow with the tree. These can be 0.75 to 2 inches wide. Tree straps are also favorable for camping purposes, given the advantage of easy portability.
PS: For safety’s sake, make sure to check the grip of the strap every time before use, if you are leaving it for a long time.
Drilling your way to the Hammocks
Well, this will hurt them, but not to the extent of killing them. Hammocks are often hung to the trees by using eyehooks, screws or bolts. This can be a good option for permanent hammocks.
Will this be okay?
After some time, yes it will be fine. Drilling a hole inside the trunk will open a way that can lead to infections. But in most cases, the tree produces a sag or sap (thick serum-like solution) that has antibacterial properties. It heals the injury and seals the hole.
Eye screws do pose a threat to the tree life, but the damage is reversible. It is also important to get a good quality eco-safe metal (preferably stainless steel or maybe galvanized metal, no copper) as this will go inside the tree body.
Pros: Hanging the hammock using the drilling technique also provides robustness and increases the weight carrying capacity of the hammock.
With this it is also essential to analyze to what extent the hammock can damage the tree, this, in turn, can as well depend on how to prolong the hammock is hung on the tree.
The Duration factor and Purpose
This is one important factor of tying the hammock to the tree that you should consider. And this is basically about the time for which your hammock is going to stay on the tree.
If the hammock that you are tying is for a permanent set up like at your backyard or your guest house, the best way is to use eye bolts or the hammock stands. This will minimally harm trees.
But for camping or trekking, where the hammocks are hung for say 5 or 10 days, ropes or tree straps are the best choices, they will be easy to carry and pocket-friendly. Yes, this will harm the trees to some extent, but once the hammocks are removed, the injury will in the due course heal up.
Also, it would not be advisable to screw the trunk just for the fun of 5 -10 days. As once you pull out the drill or screw the plant will take a lot of time to heal and the holes will be too exposed to the infection.
In many parks or public places, the local, state or national park service administrators will not allow tying anything to trees or bushes.
Why not Hammock stands?
Hammock stands are harmless; they can act as the ultimate set up if you love hammocking. If you are planning to have a permanent hammock, it is advisable to go for hammock stands. It is ecofriendly and you don’t have to worry about hurting trees.
But if you are willing to take you hammock for trekking or camping or on a poolside, this option is impossible as hammock stands are heavy and not easily portable.
The other con that comes with hammock stands is its cost and maintenance. Hammock stands can be expensive and you have to make sure that it can hold a good weight.
Hammocks do hurt trees, but there are multiple ways to prevent trees from permanent damage or make sure of minimal impairment.
Some other factors like the season and the tension created due to extreme weight on hammocks can as well affect the tree damage.
If you love spending time with nature and are worried of hammocks harming trees, hope we’ve given you the solution.