Tree Planting Disgrace

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by mdvaden, Oct 24, 2005.

  1. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    For a while, I've been working part time for a landscape company in Medford that seems to do mainly "production work" - construction site stuff.

    My second day working, I just about freaked when they planted trees - or, asked me to help them plant trees.

    They wrap root panels in a circle around the tree. Yes, the box shows that option, but the City of Medford REQUIRES (not suggests) that the root panels run along and parallel to the sidewalk and curb, leaving plenty of room for root growth.

    Good for the City of Medford. The encircling panel method would be like planting the trees and leaving them in the pot.

    Not only did this company put the panels in circles, the circles were so small that the trees were almost shoe-horned in - barely enough room to squeeze soil in. And oddly, they add mycorrhizae to help the trees. They really want to plant right, but don't understand trees or soil.

    There's a missing piece still - they filled the bottom of the holes with several inches of rock. Yes, that's right.

    Nowhere for the roots to grow sideways, and nowhere to grow down. Maybe a few little roots can squeeze in the cracks, but which one of you would like to plant your plants in rocks?

    The company management believes the rock will help drainage.

    If there was water in the hole before, and it could not drain away, how would adding solid rock matter help at all if there is no drain line to transfer the water?

    As you may have noted in my other posts, there is no horticulture program at the college here. There was one once, but lack of interest apparently caused it to go by the way side.

    At this rather large landscape company, one thing stood out. Pride in work, but no love for the profession.

    The workers do like the lawns to look green, the plants to be where the plan says, etc.. So from one angle - that one -the workers take pride in work.

    But they don't read about plants, trees or soil. They barely garden on the side. None except maybe one, expressed any interest in educational courses or programs. It's basically just a job.

    It's like a dead end road. What are they going to do, stay there as foreman making $14 per hour until they are 50 years old?

    In Portland area, I didn't see much of this kind of thing. Most guys and gals that hung around for a few years were really interested in their work, they loved landscaping, turf, trees, shrubs. It was a special thing to them.
  2. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,496

    Sounds like you've entered the Twilight Zone.
  3. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    Maybe the "Transition Zone".

    Medford is really starting to grow in leaps and bounds, especially from retired Californians.

    Good workers ("work" is the key) are in shortage. But I think things will change, likewise with education and how businesses conduct work.

    None-the-less, I was amazed (these days with TV and books available) to see trees planted in something resembling the sides of a black nursery pot with a thick layer of rock in the bottom.

  4. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,496

    I feel your frustration. Are these trees guaranteed for a certain length of time by the installer?
  5. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,157

    I could understand putting some sort of root barrier along curb and sidewalks but allt he way around???
  6. jbell113

    jbell113 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 654

    Maybe and Im just saying maybe....they wanted to retain the rootball to a small area so it wouldnt grow fast and eventually damage the side walks or garauntee a certain death so they can replant a few years down the road.
  7. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    Rock actually prohibits drainage in a planting hole.
    Some from the old school use to advise this method thinking that the excess water would pool into the rock below and keep the roots from drownding in areas where drainage was bad.Actually what would happen is the water would drownd the roots anyway because the rock would prevent what drainage there might have been from functioning .
    What you have described it bad Landscaping for good $$.That's too bad,I hate to see that kind of thing.
  8. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    OOPS double post!
  9. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,496

    I saw this done where trees were planted in raised planters. They figured that by totally encircling the roots with a barrier that the roots would go deeper instead of spanning out. Within five years the planters had large cracks in them and had to be removed. Basic determination was that the surface area of the planters were too small to contain the trees.

    CAL-LANDSCAPER LawnSite Member
    Messages: 48

    I understand the idea of installing a root barrier to help prevent surface roots,
    but some room needs to be left around to root ball for new roots to grow.
    We've installed many root barriers where there would later be a possible problem close to sidewalks or a concrete patio area.
    As far as having the root barrier so close to the roots, have you ever seen a tree in a nursery get pot bound and has no choice but to grow out of the drain holes and into the ground ? The trees will find a way to survive.

    Still don't agree with the method used by you employer and
    I don't agree with the rock under for several reasons.
    Also understand you frustrations.
    I see so many projects done with poor quality installation.
    The problem many times is that the home owners don't know the difference of a good landscape or a bad one. Poor quality products and poor plant choices and placement. The home owner also does not check into any references or previous work done by some local companies.
    It's what I refer to as 'Two guys and a Shovel' landscaping
    with no education or knowledge of plant material.
    Usually no licence and no insurance either.
    So, I do understand you situation.

    Are you in a position to question the methods being used or
    suggest other ways of doing certain aspects of the job ?

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