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 Johnson, Vermont, (small town, all volunteer)  has a new Tree Board and we're drawing up a maintenance plan for our  two year old planting of 56 municipal trees. They're a mixture of Kentucky Coffee Trees, Pin Oaks, Red Maples, and Japanese Tree Lilacs, and half of them are planted in sidewalks with grates. There are no oaks in the sidewalks. The rest are in open ground. These trees are 6-7 years old and were planted in poor soil by the lowest bidding contractor in a Main St overhaul. The pits in the sidewalks are 4X4' and have no underwater source.

  Is there a guideline for the amount of water each needs? Should we fertilize; if so how often and with what kind? Pruning is under control. Any other suggestions?

  Thanks!

   Sue Lovering

  

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  • Have replacement tree/sidewalk money set aside. NO fertilizer, they will grow or they won't. Water needs are hard to call, check them like a house plant for the first 3yrs.  4x4 is tight period, but especially those species. The exception could be the lilac. It's not if but when you have root sidewalk conflict. Hate to be doom and gloom, but have way too much experience with tree coffins and clay soil here in MO.  Elected officials sometimes do not see the entire picture. Trees in sidewalks are never a good idea but can be successful with silva cell or structural soil.

  • Nice selection on the plant list though I'd stay clear of pin oak and it's host of nutrient problems here in the Midwest. It's naturally a lowland species, and in S. Ill, they actually thrive naturally in heavy seasonally flooded areas near rivers etc. and grow to amazing size.

    Thank you for NOT planting ornamental pear...they are next on the 'watch list', and are now showing up in our wildlands. The next scary invasive? Not good.   smelly bloom, holds leaf well into fall which sets it up to spectacular failure if I had a quarter for every one I've seen with such damage, I'd be a rich man! :)

    Warms my heart to see them cut out. Please spread the word about this new invasive!

  • Nice mix of species! The Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Program has a great factsheet on planting and aftercare. Page 2 addresses aftercare and has information on water and fertilization. Here in MA, we recommend trying to simulate about 1.5 inches of rain for new plantings and do not recommend fertilizing unless a soil test indicates a nutrient deficiency. And if you haven't attended already, I highly recommend checking out the Vermont SOULTree Steward training.  (SOUL stands for Stewardship of the Urban Landscape.) The next session will be this fall.

  • You may want to consider replacing red maples with male ginkgo trees.  They are tough and beautiful.

  • There are numerous guidelines out there but mostly for newly established trees. We have a similar situation in our city and they are treated with soil therapy (aeration, organic supplementation, water) annualy, mulched and prunned every other year, and watered  with at least 20 gallons at approximately two week intervals from May 15 to October 31. You may need to increase or reduce the frequency of watering based on weather conditions, resulting soil water content or other factors.

    Water shall not be applied in a manner that damages plants.

    Our city contracts with a local tree company to complete the work. I believe the contract is for around $25K and we have twice the number of trees. The trees are vary in age from 5-20 years are doing great. Red maples have been problematic as they do not tolerate the heat well. 

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