An Arborist’s-Eye View from a Recent Bike Trip

March 17, 2021 · 2 minute read
An Arborist’s-Eye View from a Recent Bike Trip

This past Friday I took a vacation day and rode my bike from my house in Henrico Co. to Pocahontas State Park for an overnight solo campout. The ride to Pocahontas was long — 70 miles along gravel roads, alleyways, and backroads paralleling I-95 south, to Henricus Park and Dutch Gap Conservation Area before heading west to Pocahontas. So what does this have to do with trees? Well, here are some things I observed:

  • There’s still a lot of ice damage in our area and a lot of trees with small and large, hanging, broken limbs just waiting to fall.
  • A lot of DIY tree work has been done out there. I hope everyone was safe, but by the looks of some of the cuts and the height of those cuts, I’m guessing people were using chainsaws and ladders (not a good combination). If you missed it, check out Mike Mather’s article on DIY Tree Work.
  • Parking cars under trees kills grass, compacts the soil and leaves the ground bare. Compacted and bare soil is one of the worst things for a tree. If parking under a tree is unavoidable, then add some mulch to help reduce the compaction while also helping the soil retain some moisture. 
  • The season of mulching has begun and by the looks of the TRUCK LOADS of mulch in some of the yards, it will far exceed the need. Extra mulch will likely be added around tree roots, sometimes referred to as volcano mulching. This will have a negative impact. Remember: 1-4 inches of mulch is all you need around your trees. And make sure the mulch is not on the trunk or root flare of the tree.
  • Bees are out and flying around, although not abundant, so be aware of when and what you or your hired professional are spraying on your lawn, shrubs, garden, or trees. Most have some type of bee protection label on them these days.
  • A lot of trees are being planted right now, so remember that root flare should be exposed and level with the existing grade when the tree is planted. Mulch should not be more than 1-4 inches deep. And burlap, wires, and twine should be cut away from the upper section of the tree, if not the entire root ball, to allow the roots to grow without obstacles.
  • A lot of road salt is still piled up on the sides of the roads. This will eventually break down and run off with water which could impact trees downstream of this runoff. I once heard a saying that applies in this instance – “The solution to pollution is dilution.”  Following an excessive rainfall, water around any of your trees that may have been affected by salt.

Last but not least, I saw lots of signs on my journey that spring is almost here. So get outside and enjoy them. Smell the flowers as they bloom and get some Vitamin D!