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Project Maintenance

Project type: 
Tree Care and Maintenance
Year: 
2006
Season: 
Summer

How ReForest London maintains its projects

Getting a tree in the ground is no small task. After partnering with a community group, we look for a suitable location or locations and obtain permission from the land owner(s). Then we select the native tree species that work best in this location and fit the needs and desires of the community group. Meanwhile, we work with the community group to raise money, gather the volunteers and plan and publicize the tree planting event if necessary. We source the tree with one of our vendors, pick up the tree, gather our tools, prepare the soil, and finally -- plant the tree.

But getting the tree planted is just the first step. Now we need to care for the tree to improve its chances for survival. We do this in several ways:

Initial Soil Preparation
The quality of the soil and its ability to retain moisture is a key component in the lasting health of the trees and shrubs. Therefore, in new naturalization projects, we usually bring in compost to enhance the soil. Then we work in an organic fertilizer called Turf Smart. Finally, we place a product called Zeba (www.zeba.com) around the root ball of the tree or shrub. Zeba is an all-natural starch product that holds 400 times its weight in water. This helps retain the much needed water for the trees and shrubs as they adjust to their new home.

Community Organization Agreement
As part of every community project agreement with ReForest London, community groups commit to care for the trees for at least 2 years. This agreement includes a commitment to water the trees as needed, to weed around the planting project and to maintain mulch around the trees and shrubs. Keeping a tree mulched not only keeps moisture in and reduces weeds, it also keeps one a tree's worst enemies -- the weed whacker -- away from the base of the tree. If we have done a project without a community partner, we care for the project ourselves. This may include hiring a watering truck to water the project in dry periods.

Partnership with St. Leonard's Society, Youth Opportunities Unlimited and other groups
Beginning in the spring of 2006, ReForest London formed a partnership with St. Leonard's Society. Volunteers from St. Leonard’s Society are performing maintenance work on projects completed by ReForest London in the past year, including mulching, weeding and removing Buckthorn and other invasive species in the planting areas. Each Saturday throughout the summer, the youth visited a different ReForest London project site to care for the new planting projects. The youth from St. Leonard’s Society are participating through community service orders given by the youth criminal justice system. These project maintenance visits augment the ongoing maintenance provided by the community organization that initiated the project.

We have also partnered with Youth Opportunities Unlimited. YOU helps youth develop work skills and find employment. Youth in this program have helped ReForest London with project maintenance and invasive species removal.

Reforest London also partners with other groups to provide maintenance to projects on a project specific location or one-day event. For example, employees from Price Waterhouse Coopers recently spent a day with us weeding, fertilzing, and mulching trees at a past project.

Tree Watering Tubes
With funding from the City of London, ReForest London purchased 130 tree watering tubes. These products, the Ooze Tube and the Tree Gator, deliver water to the tree. The Ooze Tube is a plastic tube that encircles the tree. It holds 25 gallons of water and slowly drips water to the tree over a period of about 2 weeks through emitters at the base of the tube. For more information about this product, see www.oozetube.com. The Tree Gator is a similar product that holds a little less water, and delivers the water to the tree more quickly, in about 6-10 hours. The Tree Gator is more portable as well. You can find out more about this product at www.treegator.com.

Removing Invasive Species
ReForest London is striving to protect its new naturalization projects by removing invasive species that threaten the biodiversity of the project area. Invasive species are non-native "weeds" that grow fast and reporduce readily. These include buckthorn, tree-of-heaven, norway maple, garlic mustard and others. When feasible, ReForest London removes these invasive species by digging them out, cutting them down, or girdling them. With the aid of a Weed Wrench tool (www.weedwrench.com), we have removed Common and European Buckthorn from several of our sites. We hope to receive funding to continue this important work. For more details our buckthorn maintenance project at Kiwanis Park, click here.

Zeba is a product that keeps moisture near the newly planted tree or shrub.

A Weed Wrench is used to remove buckthorn from new naturalization areas

Evidence of weed wacker damage on a tree. Mulching the tree or keeping an O-tube around the tree helps protect it.