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Letters to the Editor published April 11, 2012
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Augering down around trees a way to help them

Editor, Ceres Courier,

I am writing in response to the to the article in the Courier on March 14, about the "sickly trees" that plague the Eastgate tracts, namely along the homes built east of Eastgate Boulevard.

I agree with the city personnel's investigation of the tree problem and their remedies for the solution. I have a couple more additional solutions if I may so add.

Lack of fertilization, lawn mower and line trimmer damage are visual problems that can be seen. What we don't see is the soil drainage problem the trees roots are having due to either hard-pan, plow-pan or compaction of the soil. Natural soil profiles with clay soil, soils that have been farmed for many years - such as this area was - creating plow-pans and compaction of the soils due to the development of the housing plots are the reason for poor drainage, specifically in the tree strips along the streets as they were compacted for roadways not for trees too grow in.

The trees are simply being over-watered due to bad, poor or no drainage after being watered. Homeowners may be over-watering thinking that the trees need more water due to the tree's decline, not realizing they are doing the trees more harm than good. They are also wasting water as well as the water has no recourse but to backup off and run off into the gutters.

Solutions to the problems: at the time of planting or re-planting, auger or waterjet down into the soil, down through those hard, compacted layers of soils. Add gypsum and sulfur into into those holes to help break up the clay particles, then plant the trees.

For trees that are not being replaced, auger or water-jet around trees drip-line. In both cases it maybe necessary to auger or water-jet down 4 feet to 5 feet to break through the layer or layers of compacted soils. This is also a good time to add your complete type fertilizer down the holes in small amounts so the roots will have access more readily for tree growth.

I have dealt with a similar tree problem when working as a landscape maintenance manager and installation supervisor for over 30 years. I had a major drainage problem with the city trees in the city tree strips in the new subdivisions where farmland and or daries had previously been located. Also as you know, developers will either remove good top-soil or bring-in bad fill dirt to make their pads for the future homes; not caring what type of soil they use.

I have had real good results and improvements with the trees after I used the tried and true method. Homeowner complaints became almost nil after their trees started to grow and stopped dying.

I used a one-man, two-cycle gas auger with a two-inch cutter bit for augering down and around the trees; and used a half-inch galvanized pipe set-up and assembled as a T-handle and valve with a hose-attachment, and six-foot-long rod for the water-jet tool for jetting around the trees. Several neighbors could pull together to purchase an auger or pipe materials to assemble a jetting tool, helping each other to remedy the drainage problem since the city is placing the sickly trees into the homeowners' care.

James R. Vinyard,


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Retirees support teachers

Editor, Ceres Courier,

We retired teachers appreciate the efforts of those in the classrooms today.

California Retired Teachers Stanislaus Division #38, through their Active Teacher Awards Committee, distributed supplies to many teachers this past year.

Schools included are Modesto City's Downey and Johansen high schools, Sipherd, Orville Wright, and Capistrano elementary schools; Waterford Middle School, Denair's Gratton School; Ceres' Mae Hensley Junior High School and Whitmore Charter School; and Turlock's Julien, Wakefield, and Osborn Elementary Schools, Turlock High School, a BTSA trainer, and a school psychologist. Supplies included white boards, erasers, and markers, pencils and pencil sharpeners, paper, scissors, book sets, glue sticks, puppets, storage boxes and bins, art and science items.

Teacher's Wish List can be submitted through the CalRTA website

Lynne Wagner,

Larry Hockenberry,


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Letters to the editor will be considered for publication but must be signed with the author's name, address and telephone number. Letters should contain 250 words or less and be void of libelous statements. Letters may be sent to The Ceres Courier, P.O. Box 7, Ceres, CA 95307, or emailed to