About 25 Red Sunset Maple trees, planted in The Vista when it was first developed in 2008, must be replaced because of problems originating when the trees were first cultivated in a nursery. Planted too deeply in soil before they were transplanted to the park, the trees began growing roots upward toward the surface, reducing the trees’ ability to take in nutrients.
The Maples now show symptoms of poor health, according to City Arborist Stephen Wild, and could be in danger of dying and collapsing in future years. After consulting with the S.C. Forestry Commission and the original contractors, the City has arranged for new October Glory Maples to be installed in place of the original trees at no charge.
When trees are first grown, several issues can prevent proper growth and ongoing health. Consider these issues when purchasing, transplanting and caring for trees.
- When trees are not potted properly during their development, their root growth can be stopped by the size of their container, causing roots to curl around inside it. A tree with healthy root growth will show roots growing outward from the trunk, but one potted improperly will show roots growing in a circular pattern around the trunk. When buying a tree, examine trunk’s base for any girdling roots, which are circular roots compressing the trunk and reducing the flow of water and nutrients. If necessary, pull off the container to examine the root ball.
- A tree’s depth in the soil impacts its future health. Make sure the root flare, the portion of the trunk which flares outward to form the tree’s roots, is exposed after planting with no excess soil on top of the root ball. Remove any girdling roots, or roots which could girdle. Dig the planting - more - hole so that the top of the root ball will rest 2 to 3 inches above the surrounding soil level, and so that the hole is twice as wide as the root ball, with the hole’s sides sloping upward. With a sharp tool, slice into the sides of the root ball in three or four evenly spaced cuts which are 2 to 3 inches deep. Fill the remainder of the hole with native soil close to the top of the root ball, but not covering it. Use only a small amount of mulch at a depth of 2 to 4 inches, and 3 to 4 inches away from the trunk. Check for root girdling periodically after planting.
- Some online resources for tree care include http://www.treesaregood.org and http://www.itreeservice.com/pdfs/Getting_To_The_Root.pdf. Local arborists can be found through http://www.isa-arbor.com/.