*Choose mature hardwoods with tough, gnarled bark; avoid fruit trees, evergreens, or any trees with thin bark.
*Don’t use trees with dead branches, or trees with signs of disease or insect infestation.
*Avoid rope. It can rub and scar the bark, or girdle the tree and kill it. If rope’s your only option—you need some hammock time right now!—choose something soft and multi-braid (like the rope you’d use on your boat) over polypropylene. Take the rope off when you’re done hammocking.
*Hammock ties are a great option, but you should still remove them at least every fall. Most arborists recommend you check them regularly to monitor the tree for signs of rubbing.
*Using hardware? Drilling a hole into the tree and installing a hook or eyebolt obviously doesn’t help the tree. But do it correctly and it’s far less harmful than a rope or strap that’s too tight. You’re largely only damaging the tree’s outer bark, not its live tissue. For a healthy tree, that’s a minor injury that it can easily “wall off.”