In 2011, the Georgia Urban Forest Council, with sponsorship from the Georgia Forestry Commission, presented four workshops around Georgia called “Tree Maintenance for Local Governments,” with consulting arborist Connie Head and registered landscape architect Gretchen Musser instructing. At the end of the program, attendees were asked to recite the following Tree Maintenance Pledge. It’s a good pledge for everyone to take!
I WILL plant trees where they have room to grow to maturity, without restriction, and I WILL only plant small maturing trees beneath overhead utility lines to avoid future conflicts.
- I WILL handle trees with care while they are transported from the nursery to the planting site, cover them during transport, avoid wounding the trunk or limbs, store them in a cool environment, keep the root ball moist at all times, and I WILL NEVER lift or move them by the trunk.
- I WILL remove all wire, burlap, straps, and twine from root balls prior to filling the planting hole to avoid eventual root and stem girdling or water wicking out of the planting hole.
- I WILL plant trees at the depth they would be if naturally occurring (first order roots within 2 inches of the soil surface) to avoid conditions favorable for the development of stem girdling roots.
- I WILL mulch trees annually with good quality organic mulch for the benefit of tree roots, expanding the mulch area as the tree and its roots grow, and I WILL NEVER pile mulch around the trunk “volcano” style to avoid trunk decay and discourage stem girdling roots.
- I WILL water newly planted trees regularly in the absence of rainfall until they are well established (up to 3 years) to ensure survival and reduce tree planting costs. I WILL NOT create a soil ring around the trunk unless runoff is unavoidable.
- I WILL only stake trees if necessary and I WILL remove all staking and wires after one year to avoid girdling the stem and reducing tree health and longevity.
- I WILL prune young trees to train their structure beginning one year after planting, removing forked stems which could later develop included bark, and then prune as needed thereafter to increase their long-term health, strength, and safety.
- I WILL prune all trees properly according to standards, I WILL NOT flush cut or leave stubs, and I WILL NEVER TOP TREES, INCLUDING CRAPEMYRTLES; I WILL provide good examples of pruning to my community.
- I WILL protect tree roots within the critical root zone (CRZ)—the soil and rooting area around the trunk that extends out a distance of 1.5 feet for every one inch of trunk diameter, and I WILL NEVER compact the soil by driving equipment, parking vehicles, or storing materials within a tree’s CRZ, thereby preserving tree health and increasing longevity.
- I WILL protect tree trunks by NEVER wounding them with mowers, weed trimmers, or other equipment (especially young, recently planted trees) thereby avoiding trunk decay and I WILL instead control grass and weeds around the tree trunk with mulch and hand removal.
- I WILL continue to learn more about trees, teach others about trees, and explain to them the benefits, needs, and proper maintenance of trees in our community.