The horticulture and the arboriculture department collaborated together during the spring break period at Texas A&M University to provide the MSC landscape with maintenance that will extend the life of the trees around the MSC and Rudder buildings. Before the project took place, we could see the trees needed: dead wood cut out, tree rings expanded, and their roots to be air spaded. Cutting dead wood out of tree are important for their health because we are removing places of the tree that are dead and are decaying. If there are places on trees that are dead and decaying, it’s vital to remove because it opens the opportunity for disease and pests to enter the tree. Also, removing dead wood open the opportunity for the tree to send nutrients and focus on the living tissue that the tree has. When we cut dead wood, we either climb the trees or we use our bucket truck to weave through the canopy of the tree. Expanding tree rings will improve tree health because we are creating open space for the tree feeder roots. The feeder roots of a tree aren’t above the ground of course, but they can be anywhere in a 24 to 36 inch zone right beneath the surface of the ground. Generally, the feeder roots extend just past the tree canopy and the canopy is the term used to describe the top portion of the tree. Tree rings are commonly added around the base of trees. Some people might think that it is just for looks but the real reason is so that there is nothing growing throughout the canopy of the tree and mulch is just used to cover bare soil to make is look nice and the mulch also decomposes and adds nutrients. One major example for the use of a tree ring is so that mowers don’t have to mow and drive over the top of the feeder roots of a tree. Driving over the feeder roots of any tree will decline the health of trees. Another reason is for us to be able to provide maintenance to the tree roots without damaging grass or landscape. Expanding tree rings around the MSC was beneficial for tree health but it was also much work for us. We wanted to cut out the rings cleanly by using a sod cutter and we cut enough sod out around each tree. This process of cutting sod was the most time consuming of all the factors that went into our project for tree health. Lastly, we air spaded the soil around the feeder roots of the tree. The overall purpose of air spading tree root is to aerate the soil and to relieve compaction. Air spading tree roots is a common practice in arboriculture in areas like Brazos County due to the soil type that we have, which is primarily clay and sandy loam. The process of air spading is messy because we are blowing compressed air into the ground and creating trenches and we air spade throughout the canopy of the tree and we also add organics in the process to add nutrients to the soil. submitted by Neil Fletcher

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