Saturday, November 5, 2016

How did they do?

My council just planted this street tree around the corner from me. 

Let's critique it.

Firstly, good choice of tree. It's WA Peppermint (Agonis flexuosa). It's a coastal area and this species eats coastal for breakfast.

I also like that they've left the lower branches on the tree for now. There's always the temptation to prune them off straight away but that's (usually) a mistake. Young trees need all the photosynthesising leaf area they can get. Think of the leaves as little solar panels, generating energy to get the new roots growing. The lower branches also act as stabilisers, helping the young tree withstand the first summer of sea breezes.

What I'm not crazy about is the staking and tying. Firstly, the stakes. They should be angled outwards. It keeps them away from the tree as it grows and also prevents them being pulled inwards and becoming virtually useless. This is especially important in areas with strong winds.

The tying isn't good either. They've done the "leave-a-loop-for-the-tree-to-move" thing*. Wrong! That tree tie is s-t-r-e-t-c-h-y as is. No need for the loop. The tree will just wear its bark off moving back and forth. You can see that is starting to happen already.

What else?

The watering bowl. Well, lack of watering bowl I should say. It doesn't show here but this ground is actually quite sloping. Water applied in any quantity will tend to run off.

Score?  6/10**

* The reason people do this is because they want the tree to move around a bit. Why? Because it's that movement that triggers the strengthening processes in the trunk. Picture a human leg immobilised in a splint for too long. Ends up thin and weak, right? Same deal with trees. They definitely need to move. BUT they don't need to move much. There's sufficient give in this stretchy tie to allow the tree to move all it needs. When you think about it, building the loop in basically negates the whole point of using stretchy tie in the first place!

** Too harsh? I don't think so. Parks and Gardens people are professional amenity horticulturists and this stuff is 101 for them. We're entitled to expect top notch work, better than what the man in the street would do. This raises the whole question of the quality of the training they get now. But that's another story...

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