I'm not a Swing Set, I'm a Tree!
“Attractive Nuisance: A dangerous condition on a landowner’s property that may attract children onto the land and may involve risk or harm to their safety.”
When I took my first class in tree risk assessment, the instructor told us the story of a young couple that died after they sat on a hammock tied between two trees. Turns out the trees were standing dead and the couple were crushed as the trees came down upon them. The couple did not notice the trees were dead, but saw the hammock and proceeded to sit in it. The couple did not do a risk assessment on the trees before trusting that the trees would hold them up.

Which brings me to something I see quite often: swings, hammocks, zip lines, etc. in trees. Sometimes the object is drilled into the branch or trunk. Sometimes straps are wrapped around the branch holding the swing in place. Parents who love their children hang swings in trees for them. Trees are living things and change over time. Trees are not concrete pillars. Trees must put on a new ring of annual growth and straps that hold a swing can quickly become a tourniquet. A bolt through a branch starts the decay process and weakens the branch or kills the tree from oak wilt. Woodpeckers excavate a cavity looking for insects. The branch holding the swing is weakly attached and pulls away from the trunk. A storm comes through and starts a crack. There are endless scenarios.

Children start out small and lightweight, but over the years grow, putting extra weight on a branch. How is that branch doing all those years? Who is checking on the condition of the branch and can it hold the weight of your kid or the neighbor’s? A two-inch diameter branch falling from a sufficient distance can kill a person.

Any object drilled or strapped to the branch is not good for the health of the tree. Trees need to move with the wind, grow, drop branches naturally, and respond to their environment. If you want a safe place for you or your children to play, buy a swing set or a hammock stand instead. Don’t trust your loved ones to a tree that was never meant to be a playground.
Journal Pediatrics stated that “Recreational, single-rope tree swing injuries among children resulted in significant morbidity."
Example of when a swing becomes a tourniquet strangling the branch
Can 'O Worms
I had the recent opportunity to hear a talk about jumping worms. Our group gathered around the speaker on a mulched hill under a shady tree on a sweltering summer afternoon. Very soon it became apparent we were all struggling to just stand upright. The mulch and soil seemed to slip away beneath our feet, like silly sand. Welcome to life with the jumping worm.

I’ve never imagined an invasive species as depressing as jumping worms. Jumping worms feed on organic matter like the roots of living plants and change the structure of the soil so plants can’t get rooted in it. They turn the top two inches of soil into granules that look like coffee grounds. The disturbed soil erodes easily, dries out quickly, and generally makes poor habitat for many plants. This causes degradation of our native woodland ecosystems and loss of biodiversity. Birds, deer, squirrels, butterflies, and pollinators can all be negatively impacted by this invasion.

Jumping worms (Amynthas) are from Asia. They are fairy distinctive, especially by late summer. There is a band around a mature worm called a Citellum, that goes all the way around. Jumping worms can be quite aggressive; They spread faster and thrash around when you touch them. They live in the top couple inches of soil, unlike European earthworms that go down anywhere from one foot to six feet deep.

What you can do:

  • Be on the lookout for jumping worms.
  • Use the mustard pour: mix 1/3 dry mustard to 1 gallon of water and pour on the soil. This helps bring worms to the surface.
  • Do not use mulch from municipal wood chip piles.
  • Remove plants, animals, and mud from boots, gear, pets and vehicles.
  • If you do find jumping worms, report your information to : WORM RANGER (link below)
The jumping worm's ability reproduce without mating, proliferate quickly and lay eggs that resemble the soil are a few qualities that make the worm extremely invasive. 
After jumping worms feed their insatiable appetites, they leave behind loose, granular soil the texture of coffee grounds.
Breakfast Bars with Oats and Coconut
¾ cup almond butter
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 egg white
½ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1 2/3 cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
¼ cup dried cherries
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons flax seed
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Heat oven to 350. Cream almond butter, sugar, brown sugar until fluffy. Add egg, egg white, salt and vanilla and mix. Put oats in small bowl, sift baking soda over them and beat into almond butter mixture. Stir in coconut flakes, cherries, and seeds until mixed. Press a piece of plastic wrap over dough in bowl and refrigerate 6 hours or 2 days.

Line 9-inch square pan with parchment paper. Spray with non-stick spray. Press mixture into pan in even layer. Bake until firm 30 min.
Thanks for Reading
and Happy Planting!
Faith Appelquist
President & Founder