Give your trees a break?#34;Don't mulch them to death

Opinion

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In addition to planting new trees in observance of Arbor Day, the Forestry Commission would like to call attention to the health of nearly 19,000 trees growing on our parkways. The recent survey noted good to excellent health of most of these trees. It also brought to our attention a disturbing practice. Several hundred trees have wood chips or soil piled against the trunk?#34;known as "volcano mulching."

Unhealthy roots often sprout above ground level into the mulch. In time, these adventitious roots will encircle the trunk, cut off circulation and kill the tree. Mulch against the trunk also provides good conditions for insect and fungal disease.

Mulching trees with wood chips, forming a doughnut, conserves moisture, protects tree trunks from mower blades and improves the soil. Several inches of mulch can be applied all the way out to the drip line of tree branches. It should not touch the trunk.

Several landscaping companies continue volcano mulching, and we ask homeowners to direct workers to gently remove mulch from several inches around the trunk. Or simply remove mulch with trowel or hands until it looks like a doughnut.

Bricks forming a container for soil piled around tree trunks of parkway trees are also seen around the village. This promotes the same unhealthy root growth and disease. We ask that bricks be removed and soil cleared from the trunk flare. Call Public Works with any questions (358-5700).

The value of our parkway trees is estimated at $49 million. As wildlife habitat, source of shade, oxygen and beauty, our trees are priceless. Please do your part to keep them healthy.

Alice Tulley
Oak Park Forestry Commission

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