This summer we were contacted by the City of Monona with a request to take a look at a special oak in Stone Bridge Park. This lakeside park was the center of a serious construction project, a large sediment catch basin was being installed underground. With the installation came a lot of heavy equipment and the size of the basin meant that this equipment was getting close to the tree. The construction was cause for concern of the tree’s health. The first thing we observed was the compaction of the soil from equipment traffic and it was clear that this tree would require our air spade service. The air spade is a tool that uses extremely high-pressure air to loosen and blow away soil while not damaging the tree or roots.
The first thing we did was blow out an area around the trunk of the tree where dirt, gravel and stone had built up around the trunk. After cleaning up the trunk we modified the grade above the tree to redirect any runoff around the base of the tree. The area excavated was backfilled with our high-quality compost. The next area of concern to tackle was the compact soil. For this we utilized a technique called vertical mulching. When vertical mulching we place the air spade upright, directly into the soil.
This breaks up the hard packed soil and creates a vertical hole which is then backfilled with compost. Breaking up the hard soil not only makes the soil hospitable for root growth but it also creates pore space for the soil to hold water and nutrients, becoming available for the tree to uptake. Holes were blown every 2-3 feet in the whole area under the canopy, then filled with compost and finally we spread our mulch around the tree. The mulch ring aids in holding moisture as well as serves as a barrier to keep traffic away from root zone. The final step in the project was to apply a growth regulator to the tree. This growth regulator is a great tool for trees that have been stressed. Growth will be directed into creating healthier, thicker leaves and pumping up fine root growth which is particularly important for this tree.
We are excited to be trusted in caring for this legacy oak that the community clearly has a lot of pride in. If you have more questions about what we did on this project, what we can do for your trees or how we can set up tree protection prior to construction please contact us and one of our certified arborists will help keep your trees happy!