Ridgewood Shade Tree Commission
October 9, 2018
The regular meeting of the Ridgewood Shade Tree Commission was called to order at 7:35PM on October 9, 2018 by Andrew Lowry.
Andrew Lowry, Michael Sedon, Dan Cramblitt, Melody Corcoran, Ian Keller, Carolyn Jacoby, Susan Nashel, George Wolfson
Approval of Minutes
Motion to approve the minutes for August 14, 2018 was made by Andrew Lowry, seconded by Carolyn Jacoby, and approved by all present.
Final Hillman Report of CBD Tree Evaluation
Tree/Tree Well Evaluation/Recommendations
Ridgewood, NJ Central Business District
East Broad St. and East Ridgewood Ave.
7-28-2018 – evaluation date
Report Date: September 26, 2018
Report prepared by: Andrew Lowry (Chair of Ridgewood Shade Tree Commission) and Andrew Hillman, Senior Urban Forestry Consultant, Davey Resource Group, Inc.
1. Evaluate the condition of the trees and tree wells on two blocks of East Broad St. and on the entire length of East Ridgewood Ave from Maple to Broad streets. These blocks were selected due to their visibility in the Village. They have 105 tree wells. They are not necessarily representative of all (205) trees/tree wells in the Central Business District but many of the issues identified in the evaluation are reflected on other streets. The evaluation took place on July 28, 2018 from 9: AM to 4:30 PM
2. Identify problems and possible causes
3. Make recommendations for improvement as appropriate.
This evaluation is viewed as an initial step in developing a comprehensive plan for improving the vitality and longevity of trees in the CBD. The report and further development work is expected be presented to the Village Council for consideration.
Individuals participating for part or all of the evaluation:
Andrew Hillman - Consulting Arborist with Davey Tree Company.
Declan Madden - Arborist for Village of Ridgewood
Chris Rutishauser - Chief Engineer - Village of Ridgewood
Mike Sedon - Village Council member - liaison to the Ridgewood Shade Tree Commission (RSTC)
Andrew Lowry - RSTC
Ian Keller- RSTC
Susan Nashel - RSTC
Carolyn Jacoby - RSTC
Summary of Findings
The trees and tree wells on Broad St. and Ridgewood Ave. (105) are in generally poor condition.
• 51% are either dead (mostly empty tree wells) or in very poor condition (not able to be saved)
• 29% were judged to be in “good” condition but even these have some issues which could lead to premature death or risk of falling or splitting.
• 19% were judged to be of “middle” or fair health. Not thriving but not likely to die in the next few years. Some of these might be salvageable but in most cases they are not the right tree for the location.
• The most of trees are stressed by a lack of water due to:
o The design of the tree wells
o The absence of regular supplemental watering
o The mulch/soil in the tree wells often being of poor original quality, compacted and hardened
• Some of the species selected for planting in the past (Japanese Tree Lilac, Purple Leaf Plum, Kwanzan Cherry) are not all well suited to an urban/tree well location.
• Little maintenance has been performed over the years
• The renovation of the tree wells in the 1990’s caused the elevation of soil and mulch around the trunks of many threes. This has led to ground level decay and surface root growth detrimental to the trees’ health.
• North Broad St.
o 10 of the 19 trees are dead or dying. The tree pits on Broad are the smaller size due to a narrower sidewalk.
o Only 3 trees were considered in good condition.
o Several restaurants have sidewalk tables and would benefit from a tree canopy especially in the afternoon as they face west.
o Ivy, which is bad for trees, was noted in several wells.
o K. Cherry and Plum were the most planted and did not do particularly well.
o Several trees were planted much too deeply
o There is a large Bradford Pear one well from Franklin, which while it looks healthy is considered a potential hazard as major branches overhang the street and this species is has weak branches.
o Christmas lights we noted on at least one tree.
• South Broad
o Only 3 wells were evaluated, all K. Cherry. Tree wells are smaller as on North Broad.
o All 3 need to be removed.
o Lights were on 2 trees. It is not clear whether the lights were placed before or after the trees died.
o Again outdoor tables were present as were partitions at the curb.
• South Ridgewood Ave. (from Broad to Maple)
o 25 of the 43 trees (58%) were dead or dying (10 empty wells)
o Many of the trees were K. Cherry, Plum and Crab Apple. These for the most part were doing poorly.
o The Ginkgo and Honey Locust fared better although pruning would be helpful.
o The problem of overly deep planting and mulch piled up against the trunk was a problem on most trees. Several of the Honey Locusts, which were doing well generally, showed signs of bark decay once the mulch was pulled back from the trunk. One of these in well 33 had a significant cavity at the soil level and could be considered a potential hazard.
o Black Nut disease was noted on several crab apple trees.
o The last 8 wells before Maple are either empty (5) or dying, presenting an aesthetic problem.
• North Ridgewood Ave. (from Broad St. to Maple)
o 21 of the 45 trees (47%) were dead or dying.
o The trees that were doing better tended to be Ginkgo and Honey Locust
o There was one London Plane tree which is doing well, next to it was a London Plane which had been cut down but had a vigorous group of suckers growing from the stump. These cannot be trained to grow into a normal tree.
o Rot from mulch was noted in many trees, as well as some disease and in one case, carpenter ants.
o Pruning is needed on 2 Crab Apples near Maple to raise the crown and eliminate pedestrian interference.
Description of the probable causes contributing to the poor health of the trees
• The biggest challenge facing urban trees in general and Ridgewood trees in particular is getting sufficient water. It recognized in the literature that tree wells generally provide only a small part (20-30% depending on design) of the soil needed for the trees roots to absorb enough water to thrive.
o The Ridgewood trees show the effects of stress (die back, disease, stunted growth, premature mortality) that appear to be caused by insufficient water over a long period of time.
o The Ridgewood trees probably suffer more than many trees on urban streets.
• The species planted was often a less than optimal choice.
o K. Cherry, P.L. Plum, J. T. Lilac and Crab Apple were possibly planted for their spring flowering beauty. They were not particularly hardy in tree wells unless they receive regular attention which has not been the case in Ridgewood. In addition, they are smaller trees which, even if full grown, provide little canopy for the street.
o Finally, disease resistant varieties were not planted.
• The tree well design is a significant problem
o The brick circles designed to contain the earth and protect the tree also divert rain water from the sidewalk away from the well, thus reducing the amount of water the trees get.
o It appears that when the brick circles were installed additional soil was added to the wells. This soil often surrounded the trunks 2-4 inches above the root collar which resulted in decay of the bark and eventual tree mortality.
o Mulching even when properly done, i.e. leaving a 3 inch separation between the tree trunk and the mulch can create a problem if it is not loosened or raked. The mulch can become a mat-like barrier that sheds water.
o Ivy and weeds while not a major problem compete with the tree for scarce moisture and should be removed.
o Christmas lights when wrapped around the branches and trunks of trees and left year round, will kill a tree. This was found in several instances.
Ridgewood New Jersey
Tree Well Renovation Recommendations
Andrew Hillman, Senior Urban Forestry Consultant, Davey Resource Group, Inc.
NJ Licensed Tree Expert #607
The recommendations below are based on the evaluation made on July 28, 2018 and the review of the observations with Ridgewood Shade Tree members. The problems identified have been discussed in the report developed with the Shade Tree Commission. The report should be read before reviewing these recommendations.
Tree planting shall be in compliance with the current ANSI A300 (Part 6) Standard and companion Best Management Practices- Tree Planting and Ridgewood’s specifications. Soil and site modification shall be in compliance with the current ANSI A300 (Part 2) Standard for Soil Management a. Modification, b. Fertilization, and c. Drainage as well as Ridgewood’s specifications.
Recommended Renovation Plan
Tree Well Structure:
• Remove the brick collar, the supporting cement collar beneath the bricks and as many of the bricks in the decorative area as possible.
• Dig out soil in the pit to a depth of at least 4’ and remove
• Remove 6’ of brick banding next to curb on each side of the well. Increase the width of the trench as much as possible.
• Remove concrete support under the brick and excavate to a depth of 30” recognizing that conduit is likely to be located close to the curb.
• Fill the curb trench with Cornell certified Structured Soil to just below curb height.
• In the tree pit fill with soil ASTM suited to the tree species being planted.
• Have a Certified Arborist or Licensed Tree Expert supervise the planting process
• Plant tree at proper height, removing all burlap and wire supports
• Stake tree with 3 supports to both support and protect it.
• Water to thoroughly soak the root ball
• Cover the tree well surface and the trench with a porous or permeable material consistent with your aesthetic preferences
o Permeable clay brick
o Porous concrete pavers
o Porous aggregate material such as Porous Pave (Stone, rubber binder mix)
• Recognize that the investment in the renovation and tree planting must be supported with a consistent maintenance plan. This is particularly important for the first three years after planting. Regular watering at the appropriate frequency and amount is most important.
• After 2 years pruning for structure, strength, clearance, and shape may be appropriate.
STC Recommendations After Reviewing Hillman Final Report
Hillman’s report needs to be presented to the village council along with the STC recommendations. The first step the STC recommends is to remove all brick bands around the tree wells. Structural soil and permeable pavers or bricks are recommended to be used in the upgrading of the CBD tree wells. These changes would get more water to the trees and help with storm water run-off.
The esthetics of the upgrade need to be shown to the village council, the CBDAC and the village residents to obtain their buy in. This is a longterm capital budget project which needs to be tied in to the new master plan for the village.
The original site chosen for the tree nursery at the recycling center flooded this summer and is difficult to get a water supply to. Next to the fire house was suggested as an alternate site but existing trees there would need to be elevated to give the nursery trees enough sunlight. The site by the Bellair tennis courts and putting green and Orchard School has also been suggested. Mike Sedon will check with Chris Rutishauser to see if this site is viable.
Trees currently at the recycling center in pots need to be culled – pawpaws, persimmons and dead trees removed.
Nineteen or twenty trees are on the Adopt-a-Tree list to be planted; Downes Tree Service will be planting these trees. The scheduled fee for Adopt-aTrees will be raised to $450; the village council first needs to approve this change in a work session and then the change must be presented in a public meeting. The planting of 140 trees is being paid for out of the paving budget. That still leaves $50,000 which was previously budgeted for tree planting. The village will finally be planting more trees than taking the down.
The Graydon island elm is here and will be planted this fall, probably in about two weeks. There will a photo-op for the STC at the planting.
Mike Sedon had agreed to own the process of working to find grants the village and STC can apply for.
Tree Protection Ordinance
The tree protection ordinance is ready to be finalized by the village council. It does not contain any regulations covering private property at this time. It gives the parks department and village arborist the final decision in the disposition of public trees.
Meeting was adjourned at 9:10PM by: Andrew Lowry.
Minutes submitted by: Melody Corcoran
Volunteer Hours: 9
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