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Sick trees being replaced in Eastgate

POSTED January 8, 2013 5:14 p.m.
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The sick and dying trees in Eastgate are being replaced under a contract awarded in August by the Ceres City Council.

West Coast Arborists, Inc., is replacing 407 trees in Ceres -- mostly in Eastgate -- which have died or grown sick since being plated. The contract of $74,888 will be paid for by a landscape maintenance account paid for by the residents.

City Engineer Toby Wells said a myriad of problems contributed to the poor outcome of street trees planted in the new eastside neighborhood. Soil conditions are part of the problem. Trees in some areas are showing signs of mineral deficiency because of the lack of calcium, magnesium, potash and sulfate in the soil.

Some residents were giving either too much or not enough water for the trees. Many trees died from neglect since a number of houses were vacated from foreclosures.

"A lot of folks don't know how to set sprinkler so they got too much water," said Wells.

The contract calls for uprooting dead or sick trees and replanting them under the watchful eye of a certified arborist who is suggesting a higher planting standard.

Wells said that residents are technically the ones responsible for the watering and care of street trees planted by the city on their property.

Residents' careless use of lawnmowers and weed whackers have also inflicted trunk bark damage that has stunted growth. Tree trunk guards, which cost available about $10, would prevent that, the city said.

In other cases, said Wells, roots are overwatered because lawn watering often overruns and into the lower sections where trees are planted between the sidewalk and curb.

The city has planted a variety of street trees in Eastgate including Chinese pistachio, red bud, and camphor trees. Many of them were planted three to seven years ago.

According to the city, residents can help protect the trees with a small investment.

Tree 'N Vine, available at Stanislaus Farm Supply, contains a blend of 12% nitrogen, 8 percent phosphate, and 16 percent potash needed for the trees. Each homeowner should apply one pound (approximately one heaping tuna can) per diameter in inches four times per year. For example, if the tree trunk is two inches in diameter, then apply two pounds. The cost of the fertilizer runs about $25 for a 50-pound bag.

Trees up to two years old needs only enough water to keep the ground moist. After two years, water needs are less because the root system has had time to become established. A healthy lawn needs approx ¾" to 1" of water per week to maintain proper growth and good color. To determine if your lawn needs water, simply walk across the lawn and if the grass pops back up, it has plenty of moisture.

The issue of poor tree health was brought to the attention of the Ceres City Council in 2011 by former Councilman Guillermo Ochoa who moved into one of the neighborhoods there.
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