Time to look up! The trees are starting to bloom. While the temperature may currently be a bit chillier than we’ve seen this winter, spring is on it’s way, we promise. The first day of spring is officially next Monday, March 20th. We have already seen the first bud break on many of the trees in the area due to an unseasonably warm winter. That means your trees are trying to get your attention!
As the leaves and flowers emerge, now is the perfect time to look closely at your trees. Make sure to take note of any branches where the buds aren’t keeping up with the rest of the tree. Does your redbud look different from your neighbors? Have you failed to see blooms on previously healthy trees? Keep in mind that different species bud at different times.
Now is also a good time to look for insects or pests that weren’t affected by the winter (or lack thereof) conditions. Make sure to notice if there is any leaf discoloration as they peak out. Also, take note of any wounds or cankers on the bark.
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.
English ivy, [Hedera helix], is an exotic invasive species that is popular for it’s ability to grow in dry shade. Unfortunately, the English ivy has become so successful that it is replacing native species, including trees! Mature English ivy has the ability to climb and cover the tree canopy, adding thousands of pounds of biomass weight totrees, girdling tree trunks, and shading sub‐canopy and canopy trees. This can cause trees to fail and fall on nearby structures and utilities. Although still recommended by landscape professionals because of English ivy’s resistance to disease, ability to grow where lawns fail, and its overall aggressiveness, English ivy carries many problems and issues with it. English ivy does not benefit native wildlife, but does benefit vermin, giving them places to hide.
We at New Urban Forestry Landscaping are committed to the removal and eradication of English ivy in our landscapes and replacing them with native plant species that benefit the wildlife and ecology of the site.
Ivy girdling is a technique that we employ to begin the process of saving the mature trees that English ivy is so adept at killing. We cut the ivy from the ground to around 3‐4 feet up the tree, being careful when removing the ivy from the trunk as to not cause damage. As the top portion of the ivy is severed from the nutrient providing root system, it dies and begins to fall off the tree, liberating the tree and ultimately saving its life.
Smothering English ivy is another technique that we at New Urban Forestry Landscaping use to control the ivy that runs rampant on the ground. We remove and cut as much of the ivy as we can, then we layer cardboard over the ivy debris that may sprout back, finally we cover the cardboard with a thick layer of mulch. Be aware that mulch is great for trees and shrubs, but you can have too much of a good thing! The maximum amount of mulch layer around trees and shrubs is 4 inches. Anymore than 4 inches and you run the risk of suffocating the plant roots and killing the plants that you worked so hard to save.
Although English ivy eradication may seem daunting at first, we like to prioritize the eradication efforts. The #1 priority is to save all trees in the landscape; #2 is to remove and smother ivy that tries to climb on structures and fences, and finally the last priority is to eradicate ivy from the ground by removal and smothering with mulch.
So the next time you are struggling with what to plant underneath your mature trees, before planting an exotic, invasive species, contact us at New Urban Forestry Landscaping and we will help you decide on plants that are beneficial to the ecosystem and will not harm your established landscape.
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.
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.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill., U.S. February 06, 2015 John F. Ritzier of ATHENS, GA, recently earned the ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification credential by successfully completing the course and passing the exam administered by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) and the local chapter of I SA.
The ISA Credentialing Program is a voluntary program designed to test an individual’s degree of knowledge in the field of arboriculture. The ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification is the only ISA credential that requires individuals to take a designated course. To earn the qualification upon completion of the course, individuals must pass an exam that includes both a written and field component to test their knowledge 0f tree risk assessment To maintain the qualification, individuals must take the course and pass the exam
every five years.
The credentialing program is designed to increase the standard of practice and safety in the tree care industry and to promote the professional development of individual practicing arborists. Credentialing also assists the public in identifying qualified tree care professionals. When contracting for tree risk assessment, ISA recommends hiring arborists who are ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualified. Verification of credential holders is available online at www.isa-arbor.com.
The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), headquartered in Champaign, Ill., U.S., is a nonprofit professional organization supporting tree care research and education around the world. As part of ISA’s dedication to the care and preservation of shade and ornamental trees, it offers the only internationally recognized
certification program in the industry. For more information about ISA and Tree Risk Assessment Qualification, visit www.isa-arbor.com. To promote the importance of arboriculture and help educate the public about the value of proper tree care, ISA also manages the consumer education website TreesAreGood”‘ (www.treesaregood.org).
New Urban Forestry collaborated with Watson Spring to provide this White Oak section for the new Barrow Elementary in Five Points! The other piece was installed at the Special Collections Library on the UGA campus. The White Oak came from the same tree that fell in a storm about 3 years ago.