The Ranger has been involved in many neighbour disputes over trees and hedges. Trees and hedges are usually on boundaries, you see, and so that’s where the trouble starts. It’s very easy to underestimate the fury, rage and pain that courses through such seemingly storm-in-teacup matters. On at least two occasions in recent times people have died over these disputes, one of these being shot by his neighbour. So, not trifling matters.
What the protagonists almost invariably fail to recognise when they come to the Ranger for some assistance is that the authorities will rarely take one side or the other – in fact, they are more interested in the tree itself, because it is the tree which has amenity for the rest of us. What is one person’s nuisance is a beautiful addition to the landscape for many others. So, in many cases, the Ranger finds himself defending not the harassed householder, nor the hysterical neighbour, but the trees.
How many times has the Ranger heard this one? ‘Dear Ranger, how do I kill my neighbour’s nasty tree? I’ve tried copper nails and it dosn’t work’. So regularly the old ‘copper nail’ story is trotted out. No doubt there are innumerable midnight expeditions by surreptitious neighbours silently tapping copper into the trunk of the hated specimen – indeed, the Ranger has actually found these nails in disputed trees. Healthy, vigorous trees. Yes, friends, let an old Ranger reveal a terrible truth – copper nails do not kill trees. In New Zealand there’s even an opposite myth that says that you should put copper nails into fruit trees to protect them from disease. Just like the killing trees idea, it’s not true.
Where this story originated is a mystery, but practical experience demonstrates that the supposed ‘magic bullet’ solution is simply false. Driving a copper nail into a tree does nothing. You might kill a tree if you bought enough copper nails to make a pile big enough to hide the tree, but short of that you’re wasting your time. And where do you get copper nails from anyway? Is this whole thing promoted by the Copper Nail Retailers Association? Perhaps they don’t have any other use for their product.
A tale from Berlin, where the 2006 World Cup fans filled the city, and the urinals, suggests a more enlightened alternative. It seems that all those fans peeing in the bushes were killing the bushes. We are wasting our time buying all these copper nails. Let’s just hold a big party, with lots of free beer, and no toilets. Then, even if the trees survive, the neighbours might just have chilled out enough to all be friends again.
Oh, and if you came to this page wondering how to kill a tree with copper nails, or even how to kill trees without them (yes, there is a way, and it’s even easier than copper nails) – sorry, this is not a page about killing trees so that’s another story. You probably won’t be too surprised to hear that the Ranger won’t be telling it to you.
Still don’t believe me about the copper nails? Check these out: