Commercial Landscaping Blog for The San Jose | Bay Area, CA

What Everybody Ought to Know About Commercial Tree Care

Posted by Gene Ebertowski, President on Aug 25, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Urban Tree Care Can Be Challenging


The biggest challenge, however, is limited root space. In commercial landscaping and urban settings, trees' roots must compete within a limited space due to vast amounts of paved concrete and asphalt surfaces.

My father kept an avocado tree for 8 years before it grew too big and too tall to keep inside our home during the colder months.

I was sure that tree was my dad’s first son. My dad kept the tree well maintained, selectively removed the dead twigs and leaves on a routine schedule and, one spring, relocated and planted the tree in a protected location in our back yard to avoid damage from hot wind and heat. Among the edible garden and the flowers we planted each year, it was evident that little Cado meant a lot to my father.

When he decided to donate his tree due to space confinement, my dad published ads in the local classified newspaper for a new responsible caretaker. Although he was donating the tree at no charge, he screened the interested party with specific questions to be certain his first born son “Little Cado” ended up in the possession of the right care taker.

Like my father’s avocado tree, all trees need the appropriate loving care, and appropriate maintenance. But in an n Urban environment where they have to endure challenging environmental conditions need a little extra loving care.

Limited Site Conditions Bring On Additional Challenges

There are many City trees such as the, Sycamore tree and Oak Tree, are challenged by a variety of environmental factors such as - concrete surfaces impeding the root space and oxygen in which trees can reach and grow, heavy construction equipment that create compacted soil conditions and construction debris limit the soil condition, vehicle pollution infiltrate the air and hot surface temperatures rise among, highly populated urban and public areas.

Additional challenges occur when high winds speed between apartment buildings, damaging trees; when public vandals damage tree branches in public spaces and when petroleum and other contaminants leak through pavement cracks, disrupting the chemistry of the soil.

The biggest challenge, however, is limited root space. In commercial landscaping and urban settings, trees' roots must compete within a limited space due to vast amounts of paved concrete and asphalt surfaces.

"Tree roots cause surface damage to walkways and paved surfaces, searching for water and nutrients," says Gene Ebertowski, ISA certified Arborist and President at FloraTerra. "The formula for the size of the root zone of nursery grown trees is 1.5 to 2.75 times the total trees height," he explains. "In the correct environment, a relatively compact tree can have up to a 20- to 30-foot root zone, but in a commercial landscape setting might be limited to a 4 or 5 foot planter."

Site Factors Reduce Trees Life Span in Apartment Landscaping

The sad fact is, the average tree in commercial property landscaping might have a life expectancy of only ten years – compared to natural forest settings. The challenging soil conditions of many public space environments greatly limit their ability to maximize their full lifetime potential. But there are so many positive benefits trees provide, including storm water filtration, lower carbon emissions, clean air and oxygen, shade, and lower heat island effect, they are important additions to commercial and urban spaces. City trees with the appropriate care and maintenance can potentially live a long healthy life similar to their ancestors in a natural forest setting, providing economic value, emotional and health benefits for many decades.

There is new urban technology available that has been used in recent years that aids urban trees by improving their root growing environment, it’s called the Silva Cell Tree and Stormwater Management System. It resembles interlocking milk crates, which prevents soil movement. Engineered soil fills the voids in the cell, porous cells help reduce soil compaction. There are two main reasons this type of a system . The engineered system improves root space allowing for more oxygen to help the tree roots expand and grow.

Sustainable Landscaping Practices Can Help Trees Thrive

In some Urban environments, vertical mulching and drainage help stressed trees with soil compaction and limited root space, this will also help care for your trees in a drought. With this procedure, landscape professional’s install-perforated drainage pipe in the soil within a fixed distance of the tree allowing better oxygen and improved water flow for the tree to absorb. Carefully placed holes (filled with small aggregate material) around the base of the tree may also improve the tree's ability grow into the surrounding soils.

In commercial tree care, another challenge city trees face is salt accumulation. Salt buildup in the soil can turn evergreens pale green and yellow the color of the leaves, which takes away from the trees natural beauty into the spring. The salts that build up in the surrounding soil and tree’s root system can cause desiccation (drying), which alters trees' mineral nutrition balance and soil structure. Healthy, mature trees acclimate and survive better than young new planted trees or trees that are stressed due to the drought, and species with thin bark suffer more from salt damage. However, careful maintenance practices and planting can help mitigate the problem. Supplemental watering, when appropriate, can also help wash away salts from the trees root system which can help.

Healthy trees provide several benefits to the environment and local economy including the public’s emotional well-being. My father kept Little Cado tree healthy for 8 years - more than 12% of his lifespan at the time. As his meticulous detail and attention to proper maintenance resulted in a vibrant robust, healthy avocado  tree, more thought to urban environments and street trees can provide resilient, vibrant public spaces.

Have Tree Problems? Leave it up to one of our ISA Certified Arborists!

Regardless if you own or manage an Apartment Complex, or have a single Retail Center, FloraTerra is very experienced in the area of commercial and multi-residential landscaping, let us help you with your next landscaping project.

Tree Care Solutions for Commercial Property Managers

FloraTerra  is a Leading Landscape company in and around the San Jose bay area, we provide tree care and landscaping services for apartment complexes, shopping centers and hoa landscaping services , we provide complete range of landscaping services for communities, real estate developers and commercial property owners.

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Topics: Tree Care



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