City Trees

July/August 2015

City Trees is a premier publication focused on urban + community forestry. In each issue, you’ll learn how to best manage the trees in your community and more!

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Page 33 of 39

How does SMA's current president, David Lefcourt, manage his City's trees? University of Massachusetts- Amherst Extension Assistant Professor of Urban and Community Forestry Rick Harper interviewed him to find out. Lefcourt has been the City Arborist/Tree Warden for the City of Cambridge for over seven years. He is respon- sible for the management of over 19,000 city trees and an urban forestry crew of eight people. He says, "Since I started with the City in 2007, we've planted over 2500 trees—so there's never a dull moment!" You can see a personal profile of Lefcourt in the March/April 2013 edi- tion of City Trees. Rick Harper: What are some of the biggest chal- lenges you encounter as you "green" the City of Cambridge? David Lefcourt: Frankly, though most of us know tree roots are typically pretty shallow and largely restricted to that upper 12-36 inches (30-91 cm) of the soil pro- file, I find that I need to be contin- ually vigilant to make sure that the trees that we plant aren't installed with too much soil on their roots. I realize it doesn't sound complex, but this is a real problem that I see time and time again in the world of community forestry. RH: Absolutely, it is something I find myself constantly checking for when I am looking at trees—especially new installations. DL: Yes, if we take a look at trees growing in wooded settings, for example, we almost always see a pretty pronounced root flare. In the urban forest, I've seen roots buried anywhere from 6-24 inches (15-61 cm) below grade, looking like the dreaded telephone poles. Over the long term, this mistake results in poor tree performance and ultimate- ly in shortened life spans, because the roots have suffered from a lack of water and oxygen. RH: How are you addressing this challenge in Cambridge? DL: We need to be more vigilant about selecting what comes from the field and goes into the parks, green- ways, landscapes, and streets in our communities. Generally, when we urban foresters select trees, we are acquiring large numbers for an engineering project or community tree planting event, so we are valued customers to the nursery. I select and tag trees while they are still in the nursery row; I look for root flare and for trees that are free of cankers or rubbing injury from the deer—any defects that would require the trees to reallocate resources toward closing the wound rather than regenerating roots after transplanting. I find that selecting the plant material myself is very important. RH: Are you typically planting balled-and-bur- lapped (B&B) trees or have you tried trees that are produced using other methods? DL: Yes, the vast majority of the trees we plant are B&B, but we have also planted container grown (CG) and bare Tree Care Basics from Our Man in Cambridge, MA By Rick Harper Lefcourt is vigilant about proper planting depth so that remediation is not necessary later. Photo by Rick Harper 34 City Trees

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