Recent Trip To Jacob’s Road Elementary School

February 16, 2024 · 2 minute read
Recent Trip To Jacob’s Road Elementary School

Last week, my colleague Elizabeth and I made a trip out to Jacob’s Rd. Elementary school to talk with the students about trees and tree health and to have a look and discuss concerns the students and teachers were having about their Sycamore tree. It was refreshing to hear how interested and knowledgeable the students are about why protecting trees is such a good idea. They have an awesome understanding of the many benefits trees provide for their community and were eager to discuss different ways in which to keep their own sycamore tree healthy and thriving. We met with three separate 2nd-grade classes, one 5th-grade class, and the school nature group that is comprised of many different students from all the classes.

The sycamore tree is approximately 10 to 15 years old and seems to be doing alright but there’s concern about the soil condition below the canopy and around the base of the tree. With the student’s help, we identified the biggest problem adversely impacting the growth and health of the tree.

Erosion has been an issue for a few years all around the tree which slopes towards a storm drain, washing away just about all loamy topsoil and leaving behind mostly hardpan soil. The compacted soil is also visited by hundreds of little feet running around for many hours just about every day. If these students are going to grow up with this tree, action is needed to give it the healthy soil it needs to spread its roots and grow strong.

We need to stop losing soil. Nothing we can do to help the roots will matter if it all continues to wash away. So we’ve decided to take on this issue by first adding some landscaping timbers around the drip line of the tree to try and prevent the loss of more soil. We’ll then provide aeration with a compressed air tool to break up compacted, nutrient-starved soil within the root zone. Afterwards we’ll supplement the existing soil with a nutrient-rich mix of compost and topsoil. Lastly, we’ll add a layer of fresh wood chips to lock it all in place and help retain moisture.

Soil quality should be thought of as the first step to determining the vitality of a tree. Without a healthy underground environment, a tree will spend its time struggling for survival until it eventually gives in to stress and dies.

I’m really excited to watch the progress of the school’s tree. I’m hoping it’s something the students and faculty will be able to take pride in for many years.