Congratulations to Aaron Byer for passing the rigorous International Society of Arboriculture certified arborist exam. He joins 3 other full-time certified arborists on staff at New Urban Forestry. Aaron started professionally climbing trees in 2011 and has previously worked for companies all over the Southeast, including Davey Tree in Greensboro, North Carolina. He has been with New Urban Forestry for just over one year. He is currently a sales arborist, so make sure to congratulate him when he comes to look at your trees.
By Jessie McClellan
A historic cemetery sits just on the edge of the campus of The University of Georgia with an entrance across from Sanford Stadium. Tucked away, many drive past daily without ever having stepped foot in this park-like resting place. The Oconee Hill Cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places List in 2013 in the areas of Architecture, Art, Landscape Architecture, Community Planning and Development, Ethnic Heritage: Black, Ethnic Heritage: Jewish, Engineering, and remains a grand example of the landscape architecture style of the 19th century.
The land for Oconee Hill Cemetery was purchased in 1855, complete with many graves that predate the opening of the cemetery. Gravesites were created across the campus before the opening, which highlighted the need for a public cemetery. The original 17 acres were purchased for $1000, but the site quickly expanded in 1898 to include an additional 82 acres. Many notable people are interred at Oconee Hill, including several former UGA presidents, governors, aviation pioneer Ben Epps, and Ricky Wilson, guitarist of the B-52’s.
One of the notable features of the cemetery is the landscape architecture, as recognized in the National Register. It was originally designed by a member of the UGA faculty, James Camak, and features a park-like setting that is reminiscent of botanical gardens and arboretums. Oconee Hill’s architecture demonstrates styles consistent with the features of the Rural Cemetery Movement of the time. Unfortunately, little has been done over the years to preserve the trees and landscape.
A group of community members formed the Friends of the Oconee Hill Cemetery in 1999. One of their major accomplishments, among many others, includes acquiring federal grant funding from the Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (with the help of Athens-Clarke County) for the management of the trees on the property. This grant funding, which is matched by donations by the friends group and others, will allow for Phase Two of a project to preserve and protect the trees on the grounds and replace trees that have been removed.
Phase 1: a tree Inventory, completed in 2015, was also grant-funded. The inventory identified 40 species of trees of 563 trees inventoried with an average diameter of 20 inches. This does not include the forest on the periphery which averages 127 trees per acre. The inventory found that many of the trees had been poorly pruned and/or were diseased. It also determined many invasive species on the property, including English ivy and privet.
Work was completed in early 2017 on the tree maintenance plan for the burial ground. Phase 2 prioritizes high risk issues that could cause damage to existing markers. This phase involved the removal of dead and hazardous trees and trees with dead limbs, along with reducing the risk of dead limb failures. These projects will help to preserve some of the mature canopy throughout the grounds. To meet inventory recommendations, the invasive plants must also be removed so that native species will be allowed to thrive.
This urban forest is a vital asset to the Athens community. The management of the trees is essential to preserving this historic burial ground, as well as allowing for future interments, as it is still an active cemetery. New Urban Forestry is honored to be a part of the continued efforts to maintain this historic landmark.
For more information on The Oconee Hill Cemetery, please visit the official website or see Oconee Hill Cemetary of Athens, Georgia, Volume I, written by Charlotte Marshall. See the video for a more in depth look.
This preservation project has been financed in part with Federal funds from the National Park Service, U.S. Department of Interior, through the historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. However, the contents, opinions, and recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of the Interior or the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial products or consultants constitute endorsement or recommendation by these agencies. This program receives Federal financial assistance for identification and protection of historic properties. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended, the U.S. Department of Interior prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, gender or disability in its federally assisted programs. If you believe you have been discriminated against in any program, activity , or facility as described above, or if you desire further information, please write to: Office for Equal opportunity, National Park Service, 1849 C Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20240.
As the cooler fall weather moves in and changes our landscapes from summer green to shades of yellow, gold, and orange; you may begin to see one persistent pest that refuses to give up the green. In fact, it refuses to give up at all. Under the cloak of your trees’ leaves, mistletoe has found itself a home. Whether it be on the humble Hackberry or your prized Texas Red Oak, it has been growing—pulling its moisture from the host.
One of nature’s most harmful “bird gifts”, mistletoe seeds, move from one landscape to another looking for that perfect arboreal environment. The two and three year old wood on Cedar Elms and Hackberry trees are prime real estate, but a few other local species will do in a pinch. Once the location is right, the seed germinates and a strange, opportunistic root-like structure finds an opening in the bark and taps in to the tree’s vascular system. Mistletoe becomes a tree squatter, ready to take the neighborhood.
Urban Soils and Tree Root Issues
A couple of years ago, during a notably large storm, a prodigious water oak fell on my neighbors’ house. This beautiful old tree could not support the weight of the branches because the root system had been compromised from years of cars rolling, parking and compacting the soil surrounding the base. Fortunately, in this case, the family was not in the house and only the house and tree were compromised, but it offers valuable insight into the damage that human activity can cause the trees in our community.
The dirt around us is constantly changing. Wind and heat and gravity and water all affect our soils. These are important positive components in creating an environment for many ecosystems. In an urban environment, one additional component is changing the soil around us: people.
People have a huge impact on the urban soils. Enormous cavities are dug for underground parking decks, the Georgia red clay is hauled away and piled to be used somewhere else, it is added to other tracts for other projects. The soil is leveled and graded and compacted. It is walked on and parked on, played baseball on and picknicked upon. Human activity is one of the main contributing factor in the changing urban soils.
This changing soilscape directly impacts the growing trees around us. Without careful consideration to how we impact the soils, human activity can have serious negative effects on our canopy.
One negative impact is the creation of a surface crust. This is caused by removal of the natural vegetation combined with compaction caused by foot traffic or wheels, and fine particles filtering in and filling in gaps beneath the surface. This hard crust doesn’t allow water to seep into the ground and be absorbed by the tree roots.
Water drainage and insufficient aeration can have a negative impact on the absorption capabilities of the trees. If the soil is too fine, such as with clay soils, it can become water-logged which can be equally bad for the root system.
When a new home is built, the ground must first be leveled. During this process, the topsoil is removed and often fill material is brought in from somewhere else. This can create layers in the soil that are different from the natural makeup of the land. This can be damaging to existing trees and can cause problems when planting replacements. The change in soil composition, including the ph and chemical makeup as well as density of the soil can prevent trees from receiving the nutrients they need to thrive.
There are several ways to remediate these effects on our trees. The first is to be aware of abused areas of your own landscape. Pay attention to where you park, where your children play, or areas that see more foot traffic. Try to park in areas that are far away from trees or only on existing parking pads. Divert traffic away from natural areas or create trails that have proper erosion control.
If you notice that the roots have been damaged in your landscape, there are plant healthcare guidelines that can prolong the life of your trees and repair damaged soilscapes. Contact a certified arborist to help with your tree concerns and you can hopefully prevent your trees from falling during the summer storms.
How do we love our trees? Aside from just giving them a big hug from time to time? There are things you can do to show your tree love that will sustain its life, beyond just regular pruning and maintenance.
We all know that trees need water. But how much water and when? I can’t tell you that. But an arborist looking at your trees can. Are they drought tolerant species? Was it planted in the last 2 years? What is the soil like surrounding the tree? Getting the right amount of water (and seriously, not too much) is one of the first ways to make sure your trees know you care.
Speaking of soil…
What does an arborist know about soil? Don’t forget that tree roots extend far below the surface. Trees start from the ground up. To hug the entire tree, you have to get your hands dirty.
One of the biggest dangers to our trees is soil compaction. Do you park your car under the tree? Do your kids play under a particular tree every day? This compaction can damage the roots of the tree. Your tree may look fine now, but compacted soil can eventually lead to insect infestation or stress which can lead to vulnerability months or years down the road. Improving the soil surrounding trees can rejuvenate ailing trees and prolong the life of your investment.
One soil-improvement method that might be recommended by an arborist is radial trenching. This is the fancy way of saying: digging holes (in a radius) and filling them with nutrient-dense soil. This calculated process is designed to aerate and supply nutrients and prolong the life of the tree.
Do you spray pesticides on your tomato patch? Did you fertilize your turfgrass? Your whole landscape can affect the trees in and around it. They all share the common soil. This is one reason why an arborist should help when planning what to plant and where. We can help plan when treatments are appropriate and will not be harmful to your trees and shrubs, and also how pruning and treatment of trees can affect the other plants as well.
Planning your landscape with the longevity of trees and plants in mind with the help of an arborist can prevent problems that might occur years down the road and show your trees that you love them for many years.
New Urban Forestry is excited to offer a customer referral program. We recognize that our success is based on your support. We would like to give back to those who have shared their positive experiences with their friends and neighbors about our services over the years. As a benefit to you, your friends, your neighbors, and the broader Athens community, we would like to offer a gift to show our gratitude.
We are aware that often you receive little in return when a tree is removed. We believe in the future of trees in Athens. We hope as a business to not only maintain the existing tree canopy in our community, but also prepare for the future tree canopy. For every tree that we remove, we hope that an additional tree is being planted to replace it. We’d like to help in this process by giving our customers a tree to plant.
How it works
If an existing New Urban Forestry successfully refers a new customer, New Urban Forestry will give the existing customer a thank you gift. Please let us know if someone has referred you.
What is a Successful Referral?
A successful referral is when a new customer mentions an existing customer by name and both customers have had work completed by New Urban Forestry.
What is the gift?
New Urban Forestry will donate to the referring customer one 3 gallon tree that is drought and disease resistant and appropriate for our region. If you do not have room for a tree, or do not need a tree, we will give you a t-shirt designed specifically for our customers. For each t-shirt we give away or sell we will donate $5.00 to the Athens Clarke County Community Tree Council to assist with area-wide tree plantings.
Thank you for your business and your support!
What is Tree Cabling and why is it important?
Trees are phototrophic organisms, which means they can “choose” to grow wherever there is the most available light. Because of an abundance of light in an urban environment (oftentimes directly over your home) this can often mean that some tree species exhibit a pattern of limb growth we arborists call overextended. You will see these limbs extending beyond the canopy of large shade trees, often locally in our red and white oaks and pecans.
These overextended limbs grow to a point where they can no longer support the weight of their canopy. In addition, trees that were not previously pruned or trained for good structure when young can exhibit V shaped crotches, or codominant stems, that have weak branch unions, often with included bark (another arborist term which explains the presence of bark embedded in the branch union). We have all witnessed the aftermath of a large limb failure on a beautiful old water oak and wondered if is this common, or that must of been one heck of a storm, or I sure hope that doesn’t happen to my tree.
Why can’t I do it myself?
Certified Arborists evaluate trees for health and structure and propose tree management work to meet specific goals, including tree preservation, risk reduction, aesthetics, and increased vigor and health. Arborists recommend cable installations to preserve the tree and to protect property or people, perhaps even with the goal of protecting the dairy goat in the barn out back.
Flexible steel cables are installed to add supplemental support to specific limbs to maintain the integrity of the tree and prevent damage to property. The goal of installing a tree cable, or cables (there are trees in Athens with as many as 9 cables), are intended to restrict movement of tree parts , or specific tree limbs, to aid in supporting new loads, such as new annual limb growth, wind and rain (we all know that song), and ice and storms.
Some common issues that might require cabling are: long heavy branches that are too heavy or overextended for the tree to support, branches that have weak branch unions over homes or other structures, and codominant stems that are structurally weak that if failure were to occur would likely damage your favorite neighbor’s porsche.
So why not just prune the tree?
Pruning can reduce likelihood of failure and should be considered first as a viable option, but overpruning, or pruning without proper knowledge and technique can also cause significant damage to trees. In the recent past we often just removed the large limb in question for fear that it would fall on grandma. Unfortunately, we now know and are are largely concerned with the significant decay that now exists in the tree as a result of a large wound created by “pruning.” The last available option to reduce risk is to remove the tree. Over pruning, or trimming (another of my favorite terms — remember, folks trimming is what we do to the grass and bushes) can also negatively affect the health of the tree. Though we should always consider pruning first for good structure, cabling is recommended for supplemental support in limbs where pruning may be less effective, or the consequences of failure are significant both to the tree and to the whatever would be crushed if the limb were to fail, including grandma’s house.
Why can’t I see the cable?
Cables are installed high in the tree and often can be difficult to see from the ground. If you are not there to witness the cable installation and to see first hand our gloriously attractive arborist climbers at work, don’t be surprised if it might not be possible to see the cable. Make sure to ask one of the crew members (if you dare) to point it out for you, or pirouette across the newly installed line, the next time they are working at your property if you are unsure of where the cable is. You can also call Shawn. He will be happy to visit and assist with cable visualization.
And now the small print: cables should also be periodically inspected. It is recommended to have a CERTIFIED arborist visually inspect a cable annually and perform a climbing inspection at least every 5 years. Cables can be good for 20-40 years, but should be inspected to determine the integrity of the hardware, cable, and tree parts. A growing tree may need a new cable installed for better leverage in the future. A certified arborist (please call New Urban Forestry!) who is tree risk assessment qualified can perform a tree risk assessment to determine if cabling would benefit your trees, or your grandma’s tree, or your goat’s barn, or your neighbor’s porsche (or prius) .
When I was in college at UGA one of my favorite things about living in Athens was driving into town late at night after Thanksgiving break, the end of a long drive back from visiting my parents in Virginia . Every year, I would drive down Clayton Street first thing, even if it wasn’t on my way, and I marveled at the sparkling lights in the trees, newly lit for the holidays. It was beautiful. And it reminded me of why I chose to live in Athens, so far away from my family.
Trees provide such a sense of place. My final year of college, I lived on the cobblestone portion of Finley Street, home to another famous Athens tree.
Would Athens even be on the map if it weren’t for the Tree that Owns Itself? (of course) That particular tree doesn’t just put Athens on the map for something other than music, but it also represents the spirit of the town.
When you plant trees, you might not be thinking about who will decorate them with lights in the future, or even if you want to leave your money to it when you die, but you are creating a history of the land and defining a sense of place for future generations to recognize as home.
As the climate talks in Paris come to a close, it’s hard to ignore the chatter about greenhouse gases, carbon footprints and emission levels. One method that some people are using to combat the rising level of greenhouse gases is through carbon offsetting through tree planting.
On a large scale, companies pay to have others, often non-profits, plant trees on their behalf in order to offset their emissions. According to an article in The Guardian, “Carbon offset schemes allow individuals and companies to invest in environmental projects around the world in order to balance out their own carbon footprints.”
But this leads to questions on an individual level — will planting trees in my backyard really have an effect? Or, how many trees do I really need to plant? Can I do my own carbon offsetting?
There are several calculators available like this one or this one which will calculate offset for you. So for example, if you drive a gas car that gets 26 mpg and on average 12,000 miles per year, this calculator recommends you plant 9 trees to offset the emissions from your car. This puts into perspective real tangible ways to help the environment. I can plant 9 trees. That seems feasible.
New Urban Forestry is not a carbon offsetting program, and we can’t tell you exactly how many trees you personally should plant. We CAN however help you to plant your trees. We can offer advice on the care of your trees and also which trees are sustainable in the Athens and surrounding areas.
New Urban Forestry often is called on to remove trees due to safety concerns; we are charged with removing a valuable resource from our local community. We want to be able to replant those trees.
Together we can continue to give Athens a unique sense of place, and also create a more sustainable world for our future.
Between Christmas trees and Christmas spirits, when we sing of a “Partridge in a pear tree”, we owe thanks to the EASTERN REDCEDAR, Juniperus virginiana. Here are 10 fun facts to remind of us to appreciate our Southern Christmas tree:
1. Each year, Athens Clarke County selects an eastern redcedar to be the downtown Christmas tree in front of the courthouse. Local, private property owners offer their tree and the county cuts it and hauls it downtown to be lit during the Parade of Lights.
2. Of the most popular Christmas Tree species, eastern redcedar is one of the few that grows natively in our region. It is certainly the most prolific.
3. Eastern redcedar is NOT actually a cedar. It’s scientific name, Juniperus virginiana, betrays that it is actually a Juniper.
4. Some English versions of the ”12 days of Christmas” have a juniper tree instead of a pear tree. It has been observed that both may be derived from the from the Old French word perdriz, which means partridge, but sounds like pear tree in English. Joli perdriz means pretty partridge, but might sound like juniper tree in English.
5. Junipers provide good cover and food for partridges. In the US, eastern redcedar provides good nesting and roosting cover for waxwings, bobwhite, quail, ruffed grouse, pheasant and wild turkeys. They also eat the fruits which are high in crude fat and crude fiber, moderate in calcium, and very high in total carbohydrates.
6. The berries of eastern redcedar are actually a cone with soft scales that have coalesced to be like the skin of a fruit. According to eattheweeds.com, the berries can be used to flavor wild meat, gin, and the French liqueur, Chartreuse.
7. The capital of Louisiana, Baton Rouge, which can be translated as “red stick”, is named after eastern redcedar.
8. According to northernwoodlands.org, “The uniform, fine-grained heartwood is among the few woods that cooperate when put into a pencil sharpener and many millions of pencils have been made from eastern redcedar. Only the clearest, knot-free sections of heartwood are suitable for pencils, and most of the wood that heads off to a pencil factory is wasted. The supply of eastern redcedar was much diminished by the 1940s, and now most pencils are made from incense-cedar, a western species.”
9. Eastern redcedar oils have been known to deter moths in the same way as mothballs, they are used in perfumes, and they are used in medicines. Green Deane at eattheweeds.com wrote, ”[Florida’s Seminole Indians] used it to treat cold symptoms, swollen joints, stiff neck or back, swollen legs, eye diseases, fever, headache, dizziness and diarrhea.”
10. Cedar-apple rust is a dual host fungus that requires both eastern redcedar and apple trees to propagate in our part of Georgia. Some apple farmers have been known to cut down every redcedar within a football field’s distance of their orchard. To complicate things, however, birds reduce insect pests in orchards, and eastern redcedar is an important host for birds.