Gravel Growing Beds Help Repopulate City Trees

City Street Division Celebrates Gravel Growing Beds This Arbor Day

Though the weather may not be cooperating, today is Arbor Day! With the celebration today nationwide, and the celebration citywide on May 4th at Lincoln Elementary School, the City of Marshfield is proud to announce the implementation of the third part of its 2015 Emerald Ash Borer Management Plan: “Growing For the Future”.

The first and second stage of the plan was to remove ash trees with limited growth space
due to utility conflicts, and treat more than 200 well-established large stature trees to prevent infestation. The third part evaluated ways to increase the number of tree plantings while maintaining well-structured trees, within budget.

In spring of 2017, the City of Marshfield Street Division installed a gravel bed on the north side of their campus. The gravel bed was constructed of all recycled and reusable materials. The frame for the bed was constructed out of old signposts that had been damaged along city streets and lumber was sawed from trees that once stood on city terraces. The trees are planted in gravel that is used to bury underground utilities. Everything, right down to the sign facing Veterans Parkway, has had a previous purpose prior to the gravel bed.

Planted in the gravel bed are bare root trees of nine different species.
“Bare root trees are often misunderstood and considered undesirable to many because the roots are not contained in soil. However, they are actually an excellent option that has proven a lot of success,” said Tim Rasmussen, Marshfield Street Division. “Many bare root trees purchased have already been growing for at least two years, so you’re getting a good sized tree ready to take off once it gets tucked into soil.”

Allowing one additional summer of root growth in the gravel ultimately benefits the trees from transplant shock.  The gravel allows for fibrous root growth, so when planted in City terraces in the fall of 2017, the bare root tree can maximize moisture uptake.  The City will also see a 60-70% cost decrease per tree along with savings from a centralized location for watering during peak heat months.

“We are saving money on each tree purchased, while still maintaining quality trees,” said Rasmussen.

Previous years’ purchasing of expensive, clunky balled and burlapped trees have caused the percentage of planting to dwindle. In the spring of 2017, the City was able to purchase three times as many trees than in 2016, with funds remaining for an additional fall 2017 planting.

Dwindling planting numbers may not be completely corrected in one year, but the City would like citizens to know that an effort to correct the issue is actively in place.

If any landowner in the City of Marshfield would like a tree planted in the City right-of-way adjacent to their property, please feel free to call the Street Division at 715.486.2081 to determine if a planting site is suitable.

News Desk
Author: News Desk