Preventing Urban Tree Failures - Richgro Commercial

Preventing Urban Tree Failures

The Importance of below-ground conditions when planting trees and shrubs.

Time and time again, trees are planted and not put into the best soil available, making the investment of the tree, labour to plant, time to establish, watering and fertilising all go to waste.  Because in 1, 2 or even 3 years later, the tree starts to die back from the tips of its branches and becomes unsightly, hazardous and no chance of surviving in its current state.

Urban Tree Dying

Result – dig up the tree and replace with a new one = even more costs and work for the client, council or contractor.

Vic Bijl, from the City of Belmont, is a skilled arborist with experience in Europe and more recently, Western Australia. His common sense to tree planting promotes correct preparation and thoughtful planning when planting trees and shrubs – after all those can last 50 years in our lifetime. Vic says that Urban tree failures are almost always due to below-ground conditions. The culprits are usually either root girdling (result of a poor choice of original plant) or soil conditions.

The answer therefore to preventing Urban tree failures is firstly to choose the tree wisely and secondly have a simple plan when looking to plant trees.

The simple plan

  • Have the soil tested to make sure the trees roots, once established, will actually survive in the existing soil once established. Richgro does carry out the testing of soils to establish the ‘make up’ of the properties in the current area to be planted. This takes about 3 weeks for full results and a small report (if required) with the test.
  • Make sure the hole prepared is at least double the size of the root ball of the trees roots.
  • Apply a good, composted soil conditioner with added wetting agent, long term slow release fertiliser, plus other added amendments that may be required following a soil test. These could be clay, humates, Zeolite, coco peat, spongolite, bio char and all matter of conditioners available on the market today.

Richgro offers a terrific range of materials and additives that can improve the soil for the best establishment. These allow the soil to hold onto moisture and nutrients in the soil profile, aid cation exchange, adjustment of pH and so on.
Richgro only uses the finest materials and all soil conditioners are fully composted.  Also, the best controlled release fertiliser on the market, in using the Osmocote range.

Ongoing maintenance

Depending on where the tree is planted (and not in and around car parks and paths) , a soil test is recommended to see how the level of nutrients is doing in this critical first 6-12 months of growth.  Anytime in this period, a soil test can be carried out in and around the root ball.

Then, a maintenance program can be ongoing upon suggestion to the client(s).

Success stories

  • City of Joondalup – Over 300 trees planted and all survived in the first 12 months. Still going strong into the third year.
  • City of Kalamunda – same success as the city of Joondalup although less numbers.
  • City of Belmont.
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