Landscape & Natural Resources

Tree Care Activities

Air Spade Progress

Posted August 2014

In May 2012 the Urban Forestry Team air spaded the Drake Elms in front of Classroom Building 1 (see write up further down on this page). It has been 2 years since these trees were treated and they have shown progress in establishment. Before the air spade treatment the elms were experiencing stunted growth and were sickly looking with sparse twiggy canopies and colorless bark on their trunks. Elms typically have a lush green canopy with red and tan puzzle like bark. Revisiting these trees this year, you might notice their improvement. Although it may not be a night and day difference to the untrained eye, it is obvious to the Tree Team that these are much healthier trees that are now growing in height and girth. Air spading is definitely beneficial to a tree that has been planted in either too deep or compacted soil, or in this case both.

Drake Elm Airspade progress

HPA Air Spading

Posted December 2012

The HPA air spade

The red line indicates the original soil height

Over Winter break, the tree team engaged in a tree revitalization initiative at the Health and Public Affairs south tree colonnade. This area is scheduled for an upcoming landscape makeover and pivotal to the plan is maintaining a healthy, luscious, green canopy cover. As is common with many trees in urban settings, unnatural (and sometimes natural) environmental factors can stress trees in these areas and lead to their decline and eventual removal.

Upon inspection of the landscape, it came to our attention that several of the Laurel Oaks present in the colonnade were in serious decline and lacked vibrant foliage. After some investigatory work, the tree team concluded it might be possible to stimulate growth by invigorating root aeration and gas exchange.

After repeated, routine mulching over time a layer of compacted, decomposing debris and fresh mulch had piled up around the root flare of the stressed trees. The root flare is the base of the trunk, an area critical to vascular conduction of water and nutrients for the entire tree. When this area becomes constricted or buried it reduces the trees ability to nourish itself and fend off pathogens, some of which can enter through the covered flare from the soil.

When the team excavated the root flare, they found it buried under almost 2 feet of caked and decomposing mulch!




University Sidewalk Reconstruction: Root Control

Posted November 2012

The UCF Tree Team is at it again, this time fostering cohabitation of trees and urban sidewalks at a busy intersection. Large roots of a maturing Live Oak behind the University of Central Florida sign on University and Alafaya have been pushing up slabs of sidewalk, resulting in a tripping hazard. Instead of utility cutting roots and damaging the structural integrity of the tree or removing this majestic piece of UCF, tree team members taught the tree a lesson in cooperation with a technique called root guiding.

Figure 1: Roots


Figure 2










This technique (Figure 2) gently coaxes the trees roots in a pre-determined path of least resistance by using aggregate stone as a cushion. In this fashion, the tree’s roots will naturally expand down into the porous aggregate stone instead of up into the denser concrete slab. Due to the duration of time since the roots have been growing underneath the sidewalk, a slight reduction of root girth was necessary. This reduction allowed the concrete to lay flush with the other slabs, while still allowing the functionality of the tree’s roots.

Sidewalk after root excavation

UCF Tree Team at Work to Save Elms

Posted May 2012

The Department of Landscape and Natural Resources’ Urban Forestry Tree Team are hard at work maintaining and managing the diverse tree canopy on the UCF campus. This project focused on improving the growing quality of several drake elms, Ulmus parviflora, planted in front of the Classroom 1 Building. These elms were struggling to establish and a look at the tree roots and planting media was needed to evaluate the reason for the slow establishment. With the use of an air spade, the soil was excavated from the planting containers without damaging any roots in the process (image 1). The compacted soil was replaced with new topsoil which should allow the trees more opportunity for growth.

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