How much dirt can you put around a tree


Protecting Existing Landscape Trees from Construction Damage Due to Grade Changes

Douglas F. Welsh, Professor and Extension Horticulturist
Everett E. Janne, Extension Landscape Horticulturist (deceased)

Grade changes are frequently necessary while building sites are being prepared for construction. Often the building site has been chosen because of the presence of mature trees. However, any change in grade around existing trees can have a significant impact on their survival and future growth. Unless corrective steps are taken immediately, lowering the grade exposes the existing root system to the air and reduces the supply of nutrients and moisture available to the roots.

Raising the grade or soil level over existing roots can have an even greater effect on the future growth and survival of existing trees. When soil or any type of fill is placed over the existing root system, it causes a reduction in the oxygen supply to the tree roots and slows down the rate of gas exchange between the roots and the air in the soil pore space.

Both oxygen and water are essential to the growth, development and nutrient uptake by the roots. Many of the soil organisms also utilize the water and oxygen in their normal growth processes. Lack of oxygen in the soil may result in accumulation of noxious gases and chemicals detrimental to good growth. When this occurs, the feeder roots fail to develop, the root system and the above-ground portion of the tree begin to decline. Many factors (including tree species, depth and type of fill, drainage, soil structure below the fill and the general vigor of the existing tree) have a determining influence upon the time it takes for the above-ground symptoms to appear. Thus, it might take anywhere from several months to as much as 3 to 5 years before tree death would occur.

Determining Feasibility of Preventing Injury

When the grade around an established tree is being raised, careful consideration should be given to methods of preventing injury to the tree before the fill is made rather than attempting to take corrective measures after the damage has been done. While the initial cost may be high, preventing damage is always cheaper and more effective than attempting to correct the situation after the damage has been done.

Several important factors should be considered in attempting to determine whether the cost of saving the tree is worth the effort and expense of making the installations necessary to prevent or reduce extent of injury.

Density of Tree Population. Where trees are scarce, any attempt to save one or two sound trees is usually worthwhile. If there are numerous trees on the property, the property owner may not feel that the cost to save one or two in the immediate construction site is justified.

Species and Variety. Some of the fast-growing, short-lived trees may not be worth the cost of trying to save them. But a good healthy tree that is mature or adapted to the area, with a long life expectancy, is difficult to replace. For such trees, the expense of providing the necessary protection can frequently be justified.

Age and Vigor of Existing Trees. The condition of the tree is an important factor in determining its worth. If it has a large cavity, has been severely damaged by lightning or storm, or has lived out a normal life span, it is difficult to justify the expense and labor necessary to save the trees. This is especially true if there is danger of losing it to other causes. But a young, vigorous tree, if attractive and well placed, would be valuable enough to save.

Proper Installation of Deep Fill Around Existing Trees.

All vegetation should be removed, including sod and underbrush beneath the branch spread of the tree. Organic matter, as it decomposes beneath a soil fill, can create noxious gases detrimental to the tree roots.

The top 3 to 6 inches of the soil surface should be cultivated or broken up carefully so as to disturb the least possible amount of roots. This treatment allows better contact with the fill soil and prevents a sharp line of demarcation between the existing soil surface and the fill.

As a retainer around the trunk, an open-joint wall of shell, rock, masonry or brick in a circle around the tree trunk should be constructed with at least 1 to 2 feet between the trunk and the wall. The wall should be as high as the top of the new grade. The completed opening is commonly referred to as a tree well.

An aeration system can be constructed using 4-inch perforated plastic pipe arranged in 5 to 6 horizontal lines radiating from the tree well like spokes in a wheel to a point beyond the branch spread. The radial line should be installed so they slope from the tree trunk, thus allowing excess moisture to drain away. The outer ends of the radiating system should be connected with a circle of perforated plastic pipe as shown in Figure 1.

To provide vents, 4 or 6-inch plastic pipe or bell tile can be placed upright over the junction of the radial lines with the circle. These upright tiles should extend to the surface of the planned grade level and can be held in place with coarse gravel or stone. The low end of the aeration system should be extended to a curb, storm drain or sump to carry off excess moisture.

The exposed soil and the aeration system should be covered with rock or coarse gravel to a depth of 6 to 18 inches, depending on the amount of fill, followed by a covering layer of gravel. To prevent soil from filtering into the gravel and stone, a thin layer of straw, woven plastic or other porous material can be placed over the gravel and then filled in with good top soil to the desired or finished grade.

Placing sufficient coarse gravel in the tree well to cover the ends of the lines opening into the well will discourage rodents from eating the system. Coarse gravel can also be placed in the upright bell tile or plastic pipe and covered with a screen of grill to prevent rodents from making nests in the tile system. A vertical section of the completed fill can be seen in Figure 2.

A tree well can be left open. However, for safety purposes, it may be covered with a wooden deck or a metal grill. The well can also be filled with a mixture of coarse sand and charcoal (50% each, by volume) to within several inches of the top. This mixture can be covered with pea gravel, decorative bark or other attractive material to allow good air movement into the tile system.

An alternate method can be used where not over 24 inches of fill will be used, and where internal soil drainage is good. In this approach, no perforated pipe is used, only gravel. Again, all sod and underbrush must be removed, the soil surface broken up above the roots, and any needed fertilizer applied. Starting at the outer extremities of the branches, apply from 3 to 6 inches of coarse gravel or crushed stone. The depth towards the trunk of the tree should be increased gradually until it is 8 to 12 inches or deeper within 2 feet of the trunk. The gravel can reach the surface of the fill in the area extending 2 feet around the trunk of the tree (see Figure 3). The gravel can be covered with a thin layer of straw, woven plastic or other porous material to keep soil from filtering into the coarse gravel and sealing the air spaces. Some good top soil should be spread over the area to the desired depth (see Figure 3).

To Lower the Existing Grade

Less damage is likely to occur to a tree when the grade is lowered in the vicinity of the root zone unless great amounts of roots are exposed or removed. The removal of 1 to 2 inches of soil will not normally affect the growth of the tree, especially if steps are taken to prevent drought damage resulting from loss of roots. Terraces or retaining walls (see Figure 4) can be used to avoid excessive soil loss in the area of greatest root growth. Corrective pruning of the top to compensate for the loss of roots will usually be necessary. Rather than being topped, much of the top growth should be thinned out by trimming out the lateral growth and cutting some of the main branches back to good side branches (see Figure 5). In this way, the normal shape of the tree is retained while the top growth can be reduced to a third or at least a half of its original size.

If possible, a mulch of any type should be spread over the exposed area to help aid in preventing soil erosion, in cutting down on moisture loss, and in keeping soil temperatures more moderate. Provisions should also be made for adequate irrigation in the event of a prolonged drought.

Corrective Steps to Take After a Fill Was Made

If a fill has been in place long enough for visual symptoms of tree deterioration to occur, little can be done to save the tree. In cases where the fill has been made recently or where no serious damage has occurred, some corrective action can be taken.

If the increase is less than 12 inches, it is possible to remove soil around the tree trunk down to the original soil level for a radius of 2 feet beyond the trunk. A dry well should be installed around the trunk to hold the fill soil in place. Starting about two feet out from the dry well, holes should be drilled or dug every 2 feet beneath the branch spread. A 6-inch plastic pipe should be inserted and then filled with coarse gravel to allow free air and gas exchange in the root zone. This will usually suffice for a shallow fill.

Where deeper fills have been made, it will be necessary to install a pipe and gravel aeration system as described previously. The soil around the tree trunk should be excavated to the original grade with radial trenches extending to the outer limits of the branches. A well should be constructed around the trunk to keep back the soil. The radical trenches should be joined with a circular trench located at the dip line of the branches. The depth of the trenches should be dug to the original grade line and the system should slope sufficiently to provide good drainage away from the tree trunk. In order to carry off surplus moisture, it may be necessary to extend the radial line on the down hill side to a natural drain or into a sump or cistern. A 4-inch perforated plastic pipe aeration system should be installed and covered with gravel before replacing the soil back to the new grade line. The installation will be identical to that described previously, except the installation will have been made after the fill was installed.

Because there can be no assurance that a tree will recover from the damage already done, careful consideration must be given to the value of the tree in the landscape before expensive corrective measures are undertaken. The tree would have to be extremely attractive, valuable or have significant historical value to justify the expense of these corrective measures since success is not assured.

The preventive measures outlined in this publication will in most cases insure the continued life and usefulness of the tree (Figure 6). The decision the property owner must make after evaluating the aesthetic or landscape value of the tree and the cost of installation is whether the tree is worth the cost and effort involved.

The information given herein is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service is implied.

Educational programs of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, or national origin.

Publication Revised November 2008

12 Best Tips for Landscaping Around Trees

The Challenges Around Trees

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While mature trees bring shade and beauty to a residential landscape, the ground around their trunks can become a barren blight. Blame thirsty roots that draw up all the water and heavy branches that prevent sunlight from reaching the soil, making it tough for other plants to thrive. Fortunately, with the tips ahead, you can transform those desolate spots, adding color, texture, and other design elements—while maintaining the health of the tree—to make your yard the envy of the neighborhood.

RELATED: 10 of the Best Trees for Any Backyard

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DO maintain the existing soil level at the trunk.

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One common mistake that homeowners make is to create a raised border around a tree and then fill it in with soil to create a planting bed. The additional soil around the trunk can cause the bark to rot, leaving the tree susceptible to disease and insect infestation. If you want a raised bed, consider constructing an inside border one to two feet away from the trunk to keep the soil from smothering the base of the tree.

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DON’T add soil over turf.

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If making a garden bed, dig out any existing lawn grass before adding soil. You may assume that grass would simply decompose under the soil, but if it’s thick it can create a layer of dense thatch that blocks water and oxygen from reaching the tree roots. By removing grass before building the bed with soil, the tree roots will receive the nutrients they need to keep the tree healthy and strong.

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DO select plants adapted to the special light conditions under the tree.

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Some trees, such as maples and magnolias, allow dappled sun through their boughs while others, including most evergreens, permit virtually no sunlight near their trunks. Before choosing plants, observe the amount of shade under the tree at different times of the day. Deep-shade plants such as ferns and hostas can thrive nearest the trunk, while semi-sun varieties like lily of the valley and coral bells can grow under the perimeter of the tree’s branches.

RELATED: 15 Plants for Where the Sun Don't Shine

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DON’T damage tree roots when planting.

5/14

Trees including white oak and hickory send down deep roots, but others, such as maple and cypress, have roots just beneath the surface, or, in some cases, even extending above the ground. Cutting into these roots with a shovel can severely damage a tree. Instead, use a hand trowel and carefully scoop out as much soil as you need to fit new plants into place. If you run into a root, stop digging and select a different spot for the plant.

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DO mulch when establishing plantings beneath a tree.

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Whether you’re creating an entire raised bed or just tucking a few ferns here and there, the tree’s roots will continue to absorb the lion’s share of the water in the soil. Adding two to three inches of mulch around the base of new plants will help keep moisture in the soil so you won’t have to water constantly. Use either commercial mulch, such as pine straw or wood chips, or recycled dried leaves.

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DON’T pile mulch against the tree trunk.

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The same rule that goes for soil goes for mulch–don’t cover the base of the tree trunk. Leave eight to 10 inches of bare ground around the tree trunk when adding mulch.

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DO consider bricks and rocks as a plant alternative.

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Sure, plants are pretty around the base of a tree, but they require water and maintenance in the form of regular fertilizing and occasional trimming. If you’d haven’t time to care for plants, consider an attractive arrangement of rocks; this is an especially good option for trees with roots that extend above the ground, which make planting difficult. Create an outside border of bricks, large stones, or commercial edging to keep small rocks from tumbling out on the lawn. Remember to leave eight to 10 inches between the rocks and the tree trunk.

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DON’T use solid plastic sheeting under rocks.

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Plastic landscape sheeting creates an impermeable barrier between the rocks and the soil. While this helps prevent weeds from growing between the rocks, it can damage trees, blocking oxygen and water from reaching the roots. A better option is to use porous landscape fabric beneath the rock layer and then pull stray weeds by hand should they appear.

RELATED: Don't Make These 8 Mistakes in Your Front Yard

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DO incorporate a large tree into an outdoor living area.

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If you wish to put a deck or a patio where a large tree already thrives, you needn’t cut it down to proceed with your construction plans. Building around the tree will give you the best of both worlds: The deck or patio will provide attractive landscaping and you’ll have instant shade for your entertaining area.

RELATED: 6 Fast-Growing Shade Trees

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DON’T crowd the tree with a deck or patio.

11/14

The inside perimeter of a deck built around a tree should be a minimum of two feet from the tree’s trunk to allow the trunk to grow, farther if you anticipate more growth. The inside border of a patio (because it’s solid and will block water and air) should be three to seven feet (or more) away from the tree to give the roots plenty of surface area to absorb water. Plants or rocks can be used to landscape the space nearer the trunk (see above).

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DO add relaxing elements to under-tree landscaping.

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A mature tree with ample headspace beneath its branches is just begging for a charming stone bench, birdbath, or hammock. If you have the space, turn the area beneath a shade tree into a delightful spot for enjoying a cup of tea and a good book after a long day’s work.

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DON’T neglect the nighttime scene.

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After all the hard work that went into landscaping around your trees, don’t leave them in the dark when the sun goes down. Make the most of your new yard design by adding a few well-placed accent lights around the base. By installing solar or low-voltage landscape lights to softly illuminate plantings and rocks, you’ll incorporate a whole new design element in the project.

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Trim the Trees

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Give your trees the star treatment.

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tips, instructions, how to use

Sealant is an indispensable finishing material that is used for joints and seams. Without this tool, the installation of a bathtub, faucet, windows and even doors is not complete. In order for its application to be of high quality, you should know which sealant is better and how to use it correctly.

Kinds

The properties of the sealant depend on its composition, because this is a large group of materials in which there are tape, viscous, pasty agents. They are used for sealing seams, cracks, when installing windows and doors. They are divided into two large groups - one-component and with several components.

Additionally, they differ in the type of base, color and filler. Selecting a specific composition is quite simple. To do this, you should read the recommendations from the manufacturer. The packaging always indicates what the product is intended for - for the bath, for outdoor use.

But the main classification, by which the type of sealants is understood, is determined by its chemical composition. The composition is:

  • Silicone
  • Acrylic
  • Polyurethane
  • Bituminous
  • Thiokol

To understand which is better, you need to consider the type of work being done. It is taken into account where the sealing will be performed, namely inside the room or outside, whether the composition will be exposed to ultraviolet rays and what expiration date is appropriate.

Scope of silicone sealants

Silicone sealants are most often suitable for humid environments where cracks and joints are constantly in contact with water. Silicone bathtubs can be supplemented with anti-fungal properties, due to which they are used in various jobs.

It has high elasticity and can be used to seal moving joints. The composition does not contain harmful substances, which is why the product is considered environmentally friendly and safe.

Acrylic

The acrylic version is also in demand, because it is used when working with wooden structures. The composition has plasticity, after its application the surface can be painted. It is waterproof, non-waterproof. The product retains its properties at any temperature, it is resistant to UV rays.

Polyurethane

The polyurethane type is resistant to deformation, it is often used to seal the roof, foundation. This sealant can handle wood, plastic, metal and other hard materials.

The composition firmly glues the surface, it is almost impossible to break it. It does not lose its properties even in direct sunlight, rain, because it can be used outdoors.

bituminous

Bituminous means are made on the basis of bitumen. This is a modified binder, which was supplemented with special fillers. Such a sealant is used in roofing, for curbs, roofing material, bituminous coatings, fixing polyurethane, and repairing rubber products. Means please with high elasticity, maximum adhesive properties, ease of use.

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Thiokolovye

Thiokol products are considered the most durable and strong. They consist of several components, have excellent elasticity, resistance to aggressive substances, high adhesion to metal and concrete.

Preparation for work

To properly use the composition, you need to prepare. Sealants are most often produced in tubes. And before working with it, the balloon should be prepared:

  • The end of the tube is cut at a specific angle, depending on the area to be filled.
  • The second stage - fastening in the mounting gun. The tube is inserted into the stem part, which opens when the rod is pulled.
  • The last step - it is necessary to direct the end of the distributor and insert end-to-end. After all the actions, when you press the trigger, the mass should come out of the gun.

The gun is used to evenly distribute the mass on the surface. Fill gaps, joints should be completely to prevent cracks.

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How to apply sealant

In order for the sealing to give the desired result and pass without any effort, it should be applied correctly. The application process consists of the following steps:

  • Surfaces are thoroughly cleaned of dirt, dust, small debris, wiped dry, degreased.
  • In order to get the best possible adhesion, it is necessary to check the dryness of the opening.
  • The gaps on both sides are glued with a special mounting tape. This is done to prevent contamination of the area around the treated area.
  • The composition prepared for work is applied to the seam or other area.
  • The product is always applied from the corner, and the container is tilted. Distribute the mass evenly. If you cut clearly along the line, then the seam will be thin. If cut at an angle of 30-40 degrees, the thickness will increase.
  • The formation of the seam is carried out with a rubber spatula, which must first be moistened. The spatula is carried out in the direction "towards itself", without breaking away from the seam. The line is drawn at a time.
  • Masking tape that has been used for protection must be removed.
  • Excess composition is removed with a dry rag, spatula.
  • If additional work is required, the joint must be allowed to dry completely.

Now you can understand how to properly apply the sealant. Such actions are relevant for any means. But still it is recommended to take into account the composition, because some products can dry longer.

How to use silicone sealant

Using silicone sealant is very simple, because the process does not differ from standard processing. But you need to know that the silicone composition dries for about two days, but the surface becomes dry after 30 minutes. During drying, care must be taken to ensure that moisture or liquid does not get into the seam.

Before applying the silicone compound to the seam, it is necessary to carefully remove the remnants of the old material. This is done with a mechanical object, such as a knife, spatula, sandpaper, or special solvents. A small amount is removed with gasoline or alcohol.

If the work is already finished, but the space is filled unevenly, you must use a spatula or knife. These tools will help smooth out the seam and form a new one. It is formed as follows:

  • The tool is moistened with soapy water.
  • It presses against the far point and gently moves to the side.
  • It is necessary to draw such a line without interruption. If this does not work out, the process is repeated.

A special gun is sold for the silicone composition, which helps to form the shape correctly. What can be used to fill aquariums and joints in contact with drinking water? For this, only compositions without antiseptic components that prevent the occurrence of fungus and mold are suitable.

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Surface preparation

How to properly apply sealant so that it lasts for a long time? To do this, carefully prepare the surface, because the type of coating, the level of adhesion depends on this stage.

Surface preparation consists of the following steps:

  • Remove all dust and dirt from the wall or other surface. A vacuum cleaner or a damp washcloth is used. But, using the second option, you have to wait until it dries completely.
  • The plane is degreased with alcohol, acetone.
  • A special adhesive strip is glued on both sides.
  • At the end, the working area is dried. A building hair dryer or dry rags are used.

Such actions must be performed before use in the bathroom, when sealing seams, cracks, cracks, installing windows and doors.

What sealant to use

Understanding how to use is not as difficult as choosing the right composition. Acrylic or silicone sealant is in demand. To choose among them the most suitable option, you need to pay attention to the following points:

  • Where the work will be carried out - indoors or from street
  • What are the environmental conditions
  • Service life
  • Connection color requirements
  • Suitable value

Elasticity and tightness are provided by acrylic sealants. They have decent characteristics, provide the required level of thermal insulation, allowing air to circulate in the room. Additionally, this composition can be painted.

Silicone-based is chosen for a bathroom or other room with a high level of humidity. It retains its properties and integrity regardless of operating conditions. Additionally, no final processing is required.

How to choose the best silicone sealant

Manufacturers of the best sealants offer a large selection of products. They differ in their properties, drying speed and other characteristics. The most popular brands that produce sealant are:

  • Ceresit is a large Henkel building materials company. Offers high quality products.
  • Moment - also included in the German concern Henkel. It produces silicone, polyurethane, acrylic and bituminous sealants.
  • CIKI FIX is a Turkish manufacturer offering high quality products at a decent price.
  • Belinka Belles is a Slovenian brand that produces various lacquer products.
  • Krass is a group of companies located in different countries. It produces silicone, glue, various sealants.

But the manufacturer is not an indicator of the best compositions. Before buying, the buyer needs to take into account its composition, because the quality of the work performed depends on it.

Additional tools

Before closing the gap, it is necessary to prepare the tools that may be needed in the work. This is not only about the mounting gun, but also other attributes. These include napkins, sponges, rubber spatulas, degreasers, soap solution, sprayer, mounting tape, adhesive tape.

You should not save on additional tools, in particular, on a spatula. Some users do not level the mixture with a spatula, but simply do it with their finger. This is not recommended, because the sealant is considered a caustic substance that is difficult to wipe off the skin.

Some mixtures are white in color and have a pungent odor, which causes irritation when it comes into contact with human skin. Because of this feature, hands must be protected with gloves.

What to choose - sealant or silicone

When choosing between sealant or silicone, you need to consider that these are two different compositions. Sealant is a viscous substance that is used in repairs and during construction. It is very easy to use, which is why it is often used to prevent pipeline leaks.

Silicone also has good moisture levels. But it is overpriced and not an environmentally friendly product.

Advice. The drying time of the sealant is always indicated by the manufacturer on the packaging. This period is always different, it depends on the composition. But it is not recommended to strictly follow this deadline. It happens that the top layer is no longer sticky, but inside it is still liquid. Most often, this phenomenon occurs in rooms with a high level of humidity.

If we are talking about silicone, then the manufacturers claim that it hardens in just 2-3 hours. But before complete drying, you need to wait about a day. If the seams are voluminous and deep enough, you need to wait 2-3 days.

When buying such a material, it is necessary to take into account the amount that will be required to completely seal the joints or seams at a time. The material consumption is 300 ml per 17 meters. In this case, the layer thickness is 3-4 mm.

Lemon oil and guitar neck care

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Many guitarists (especially those who play regularly) have noticed that a layer of dirt and grease builds up on the neck over time. Is it dangerous for the tool? Is it worth cleaning and impregnating the fingerboard with special products after each replacement of strings? Below you will get answers to these and many other questions related to guitar neck care with lemon oil and other products.

Lemon Oil for Guitar and Fretboard

So, you are the lucky owner of a guitar with an ebony, rosewood or similar dark wood fretboard and decided to clean the fretboard. Let's talk about how important this is and what means it is better to stock up before the procedure.

We note right away that in this article you will not find instructions on how to care for the maple fingerboard - usually it is varnished and to clean it, it is enough to periodically remove the dirt with a cloth. Special funds are not required, moreover - guitar lemon oil is absolutely not compatible with maple fingerboard.

Why clean your guitar neck?

First, because a dirty neck looks ugly. Secondly, dirt and grease gradually eat deep into the tree and destroy its structure - sooner or later the rock will begin to crack, swell, etc. Finally, dirt easily gets on the fingers and then on the strings, which has a very negative effect on their service life.

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How to clean the guitar neck and what do you need for this?

First, be patient - if you have not done this for a year or more, then the procedure may take a little longer. We recommend cleaning and prophylactically applying lemon oil to your guitar at least once every 3 months.

What you need from cleaning products:

  • A clean cloth (preferably light in order to visually assess the effectiveness of cleaning) or a bandage or cotton wool - we will directly remove dirt with them;
  • A little soapy water (it is better to use liquid soap - it will dissolve much faster). Don't use harsh chemicals like tile or dish cleaners - they're effective at removing dirt and grease, but they're also effective at breaking wood structure.
  • If heavily soiled, you may need a little vodka or alcohol (will help to carry out a deeper degreasing)
  • Lemon Guitar Oil - We'll talk about how to use it in the last step of cleaning

Preparing the neck

  • Place the guitar on a table or use the neck stand. It should lie perfectly horizontal.
  • It is better to remove the strings (which is why we recommend cleaning during replacement) or significantly loosen them

Cleaning the neck

  • Take the prepared cloth, cotton or bandage and wrap it around your finger, then moisten lightly with soapy water. Water must not drip, as you can over-wet the fingerboard and ruin the structure of the wood. The fabric should be slightly damp.
  • Gently remove dirt from each fret, no matter which one you start with. Dirt will fall off in small pieces or dissolve into gruel - it is better to remove it with a dry cloth. With its help, you can remove excess moisture in order to protect the tree and assess the degree of cleaning of the fret.
  • After cleaning all the frets, let the guitar dry - this will take 10-15 minutes. Check the neck - if there is dirt left somewhere, then repeat the procedure.

If a large layer of grease and dirt has accumulated on the neck, alcohol can be used.


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