If you have ventured past the bus stop lately, you may have asked yourself, ”What is the Landscaping Crew doing to those trees with that loud machine?” Or, ”Why are they replacing the soft, cushiony grass under those trees with mulch?”
It is not part of an evil plan to spread noise pollution and disrupt the peace and quiet around Cowpie. We are trying to help our trees stay healthy and hopefully extend their lifespans by a few years or more.
The loss of our beloved “swing tree” shed light on the fact that many of our big trees on center campus, particularly the oaks, are not in great health. We believe that among many factors, years of drought and soil compaction in high traffic areas are in part to blame. The loud machine we are using is an air compressor, which is powering a tool called an air spade. The air spade is used to blast the soil and relieve compaction without damaging any tree roots. A bonus to using the air spade is that the turfgrass, which is competing with the tree for water and nutrients, is also being removed.
Once that is finished, we are applying a layer of composted leaves and wood chips which will hold moisture and hopefully encourage mychorrhizal fungi to better establish itself under the tree. Essentially, we are trying to mimic what would normally be happening underneath a tree in the forest. So, contemplate that while eating your lunch at Cowpie and feel free to sprinkle a few wood chips on your salad!