Richard “Chuck” Kahill, an arborist, using the Airspade to promote tree health

We have teams feeling accomplished as the weather begins to warm up and the growing season begins throughout campus. The SSC arborists have been planting trees and proactively removing potential hazards in trees and performing tasks that will promote tree health, the horticulture crews have cleaned the landscape throughout campus and have been completing renovation projects, and the GIS (Geographic Information Systems) team has been updating the campus tree inventory as well as collecting landscape, turf, irrigation, and fertilization applications on campus.

The busiest time in arboriculture is said to be from November through the following month of May because of how much an arborist can do for tree care in the coolest time of the year. The arborists have been planting trees throughout campus, they have air excavated the soil around root systems of trees to aerify the soil using an Airspade, trees are being pruned to remove safety hazards and ball moss growing within the canopies, fertilizer will be applied to various trees in April, and a few trees have been found that need support systems installed to further support the tree and increase safety for pedestrians. The crew continues to grow in experience and continues to work diligently to provide quality tree care on campus.

Horticulture teams care for the landscape throughout the Texas A&M campus. Each horticulture team has been on mission to clean the landscape, prune back necessary plants, and prepare for the next growing season. We also care for the grounds keeping for the George Bush Library and recently the horticulture department took action to improve an area called the Barbara Bush Rose Garden. This rose garden is located near the pond at the library and many tourists and/or Texas A&M students spend time near the rose garden and/or take pictures in the area. Over time, rain had been eroding soil away and the erosion causes issues in multiple ways. Crews within the horticulture department installed a new drain system, installed borders, transplanted roses, added new top soil, and finished with a layer of mulch to help make the rose garden look much improved. The new draining system also redirects water and there is no longer soil eroded after each rain. The work the horticulture teams did will pay off as they see plant health improve throughout the Barbara Bush Rose Garden.

A team that is fairly new at SSC is the GIS department. In the past few months, the GIS team has continued collecting data and updating the Texas A&M tree inventory. The tree inventory has not been accounted for since the 1990’s and the GIS team has been updating the tree inventory on a weekly basis. The team tracks data using ArcGIS, where over 4,000 trees have been collected thus far. While the GIS works on updating the campus tree inventory, they are also collecting data for grounds maintenance throughout campus, such as turf data and landscape data. As for turf, the team has accounted for every turf panel mown by SSC and found we mow over 1,300 acres of turf. While the GIS team collects data for turf, landscape, and irrigation, they have also created maps for the SSC Lawn & Ornamental department, where GIS can track how much fertilizer or other applications are performed throughout campus through a digital map. The GIS team continues to collect data on campus and as they are doing a great job, the data the team collects, benefits other SSC grounds departments.

submitted by Neil Fletcher

Before the Barbara Bush Rose Garden renovation

After the renovation

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