Let’s Keep Our Swale Trees Healthy

As a result of past hurricanes along with tropical storm winds, the City of Miami Gardens lost a significant amount of trees; thus, reducing our already low tree canopy. Since our incorporation in 2003, the Public Works Department has planted over 5,500 trees in the swales. The newly planted trees; however, have been abused by vehicles backing into them, being wrongly trimmed, pouring chemicals on the roots, not being watered, etc… We ask our residents to think of the trees as a lifetime return on investment for its inhabitants. Many of the trees will live and enhance the landscape for 100 or more years if they are given a chance.

Remember, trees are not just for their beauty; it’s for everyone’s enjoyment, as they help purify the air we breathe. To name a few, trees absorb pollutants, allow rain water to percolate back into the ground by creating crevices, lower utility bills and most importantly, they increase property value. In addition, the tree canopy helps lower the temperature in communities to provide a habitat for birds and other wildlife in order to foster a safer more sociable neighborhood environment. We are asking the property owners to maintain them; however, the City will continue to prune and trim the trees as needed. Pruning is a vital part of keeping the trees healthy. Systematically pruning during the first years of growth will be an integral part of the program that the City is implementing. The following provides assistance to the upkeep of newer and older trees:

1. Keep the soil moist but not soaked; overwatering causes leaves to turn yellow or fall off. Water trees at least once a week, barring rain, and more frequently during hot weather. When the soil is dry below the surface of the mulch, it is time to water. First 3 years after planting: If the soil is dry, provide about 1-1/2 gallons of water per diameter inch of the trunk.

2. Mulch is simply organic matter applied to the area at the base of the tree. It acts as a blanket to hold moisture, it moderates soil temperature extremes, and it reduces competition from grass and weeds; which will keep the weed eater away from damaging the base of the trunk. A 2- to 3-inch layer is ideal. More than 4 inches may cause a problem with oxygen and moisture levels. When placing mulch, be sure that the actual trunk of the tree is not covered. Doing so may cause decay of the living bark at the base of the tree. A mulch-free area, 2-4 inches away from the base of the tree, is sufficient to avoid moist bark conditions and prevent decay.

3. For pruning of swale trees call the City’s Public Works Department at 305-622-8004 and we will gladly do the job. In addition, if you hire a landscaper to prune trees whether on your property or the swale area, please make sure they are qualified and certified (like an arborist to supervise the pruning) to do the job right. Lastly do not hat-rack or top a tree.

Topping, however, is not a viable method of height reduction and certainly does not reduce the hazard. In fact, topping will make a tree more hazardous in the long term. It causes decay, create breaking hazard due to bad branch growth, and they look very ugly. Let the

professional handle the problem in a different way than the topping method.
Finally, routine care and favorable weather conditions will ensure that your new tree will grow and thrive. A valuable asset to any landscape, trees provide a longlasting source of beauty and enjoyment for people of all ages. When questions arise about the care of your tree, be sure to consult your local ISA Certified Arborist or call the City’s Public Works Department for professional assistance by our certified staff (arborist, pruning certified, etc.) at 305-622-8004.

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