Our Grounds Arboriculture team is pleased to announce that the tree restoration and replanting project is nearing completion. During phase I, which we covered in our March newsletter (http://bit.ly/TREES2019), approximately 33 trees were removed and the same amount were then planted. During phase II which was detailed in our April issue (http://bit.ly/Tree22019), approximately 43 trees were removed and the same amount were replanted.
Soil rehabbing will take place during the summer, and, based on current numbers, we are planning to rehab approximately 21 trees.
We are pleased to announce that the newly planted trees seem to be doing quite well! Grounds Manager Mike Teal explains, “The larger the tree, the more ‘transplant shock’ to be expected. The large trees at Academic Plaza went through a slight transplant shock for a few weeks right after planting, but they all appear to have weathered the storm.” Mike says the recent rain has really helped the newly planted trees. Some of the smaller trees showed some initial stress, but thankfully those seem to have recovered. Mike goes on to say, “All trees have supplemental irrigation to help them through the heat of summer. As far as care goes, most of it is being proactive from the start, with proper installation methods, soil treatments, fertilization, etc. The second part is proper monitoring to make sure the trees are performing well.”
Soil restoration work has begun using three different methods: root collar excavation, vertical mulching, and radial trenching. Certified Arborist J.J. Aguilar provided a thorough explanation of these methods when saying, “We are doing what is called radial trenching with an air spade, which is a tool used to shoot compressed air into the ground to alleviate soil compaction without damaging the tree’s roots. Soil compaction is detrimental to trees because the compacted soil makes it difficult for air and water to move through the soil and into the roots. Radial trenching is taking that air spade and creating trenches that are 6 inches across and 6-8 inches below ground from the tree’s base outward toward the drip line and filling in that trench with cotton bur compost which promotes growth and allows for air and water to reach those roots easier than before.” Root collar excavation is a simple process of slightly reducing the grade around the trunk of the tree to expose the root collar again. Over time, the actual grade around the trunk will rise due to the decomposition of mulch rings, turf, etc. Mike Teal adds, “Having soil or mulch piled too high around the trunk of the tree can invite unwanted health problems so it is a good practice to keep the grade consistent and root collar dry.”
Mike explained that with these restoration methods, “one does not always see immediate results. This is a long-term investment in tree health, and results may take a while to show. We do expect to start seeing subtle improvements to the overall tree vigor, pretty soon, though.”
J.J. has been working tirelessly on the tree restoration and replanting project since it began in February. With a smile on his face, J.J. excitedly says, “This project was a great one to partake in as I got to be a part of making a unique change to the urban forest of the A&M campus. I take great pride in the work that we (SSC) have accomplished in bringing in new and healthy trees so that current and future generations of Aggies can enjoy them.”
Just within the last couple of weeks, both J.J. and our other certified arborist, Joseph Booth, have moved onto other positions. We are confident that the other members in our Arboriculture team will do a fantastic job continuing Joseph and J.J.’s outstanding work.
To read more about phases I and II of the tree restoration and replanting project, please visit:
March newsletter: http://bit.ly/TREES2019
April newsletter: http://bit.ly/Tree22019
Thanks to those who contributed to this article:
JJ Aguilar, Certified Arborist (SSC Grounds)
Mike Teal, ’96, PLA, Horticulturist, SSC Grounds Manager of Landscape Construction & Heavy Equipment