Marking one’s property is an instinctual inclination. Cats spray. Dogs pee. Some other animals poop. William and I wanted to mark our property as well. As peeing on our trees is not an accepted legal form of marking one’s property in Pennsylvania, we decided to go with another route.
For those who own tantalizing lands for hunting, but are not entirely comfortable with letting people cross their boundaries, posted signs are the traditional way to go. In some states, however…Pennsylvania included…purple paint markings on a property’s perimeter are acknowledged as “no hunting, fishing, trapping, or overall trespassing” signs. The paint markings must be 3 to 5 feet above the ground, at least 1’’ wide by 8’’ long in size, and spaced no more than 100 feet apart.
William and I decided to go with the purple paint when marking our property. See? No human excrement involved.
Being the nutsy environmentalists that we are, we didn’t want to use typical paint. Many paints have VOCs and are not good for the tree itself (paint basically clogs the tree’s pores with all of its chemically and plasticky compounds).1 Grant it, we would only be painting a 1’’ x 8’’ mark on the tree…which really is very small in the overall surface area of a mature tree…and probably would not harm the tree in any real significant way…but we are who we are and we did what we did. We found an organic way to make purple paint for our trees~ and looked bonkers doing it. We still are not totally sure if it worked. But it was fun!
What we did:
1. We mixed juice from one lemon with a quart of skim organic milk (I’m not totally sure why the recipe called for ‘skim organic,’ whole non-organic milk may have worked too?). Then, we left that lovely mixture out overnight. I thought it would start to stink, but it didn’t. So that was nice.
2. Then, in the morning, we took a drive to the Land of the Laurels. We attempted to pour the lemon-milk mixture through a strainer so that we would only have curds. That obviously did not work.
Me and our ‘curds’
3. Failing at that, we decided just to mix the lemon-milk-kinda curdy mixture with about two tablespoons of this lovely purple artist pigment (from the Natural Earth Paint people~ who operate in a 100% solar powered warehouse, and who shipped our paint in a biodegradable baggy, which came in a 100% post consumer recycled box!). We were advised to wear masks during this mixing process. Being the year of 2020, we had masks galore to choose from and use.
4. Once nicely mixed, we went around to all of our trees and made our purple markings.2
Admittedly, when they first were applied to the trees, it looked wonderful! Once the paint had time to dry, however…it was just this faded purple. We also were due for a snowstorm within a couple days of painting…so we were not totally sure how it would hold up…
Our purple paint milk lemon mixture
Example of a purple painted ‘no trespassing’ sign, with all the snazy drippings
William and I agreed that we would need to check our purple painted trees at a later date to see how they really did….
Purple paint a few days and one snowstorm later
Thanks for reading!
1. Purcell, Lindsey. “Graffiti Removal from Trees,” Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University. FNR-474-W.pdf (purdue.edu). Accessed on 18 December 2020.
2. This recipe came from: Sanders, April. “Homemade Organic Tree Paint.” SFGate. https://homeguides.sfgate.com/homemade-organic-tree-paint-99650.html. Accessed on 18 December 2020.
© 2020 Sustaining Tree
© 2020 Sustaining Tree