BCTC's Tree Care Plan
Pictured: Students and their professor make seed balls at BCTC s Peace Meal Gardens.
The purpose of BCTC s tree care plan is to provide a roadmap for protecting the health of existing trees and increasing the number and diversity of Kentucky natives. Our objectives are:
2. Responsible Authority/Department
Bluegrass Community and Technical College s (BCTC) Maintenance and Operations (M&O) Department has overall responsibility for maintaining the grounds. The management of the grounds varies from campus to campus, as follows:
3. Establishment of a Campus Tree Advisory Committee, terms of the representatives, and role committee plays.
The Campus Tree Advisory Committee serves as the voice of the trees. The committee members seek grants to protect the existing trees, to increase our campuses tree canopy, and to educate about their value to all of us. Members provide technical assistance to campuses seeking to improve their landscapes, periodically inventory the trees and their status, and provide advice and information to administrators, faculty, staff, and students.
4. Campus tree care policies:
On September 30, 2015, Dr. Doug Tallamy (University of Delaware) spoke in Lexington on the topic of Creating Living Landscapes. He provided information about the most productive trees for our area, in terms of the number of butterfly/moth species that are supported. The top trees are:
BCTC s planting plans will prioritize planting of the aforementioned trees.
More generally, BCTC s Tree Committee will refer to the following list in choosing tree. The list includes the trees recommended for Central Kentucky. Most are native. Other attributes include disease-resistance, strong roots, and ease of care.
Pictured: Mini-garden planted in front of Building A, at BCTC s Leestown Campus.
The following list of trees will not be planted at BCTC. They may be weak-rooted, disease-prone, damage-prone, poisonous, invasive, and/or non-native.
Planting and caring for trees:
In Central Kentucky, trees should be planted October 1 December 15 and March 1- May 15. In the fall, trees should be planted after the leaves drop but before the soil freezes, so there is enough warmth to permit new root growth. While fall planting has advantages, some species are better planted in the spring, including oak, poplar, black gum, and magnolia. In the spring, trees should be planted before leaves or flower buds start to open.
Pictured: BCTC and University of Kentucky students at BCTC s Peace Meal Gardens.
To prepare the soil for planting, rocks, excessive weeds, roots, stumps, and other injurious materials need to be removed. If topsoil is purchased, it is important to choose a loamy soil, with the appropriate pH for the Bluegrass, and with no contaminants (such as pesticides).
Before planting a tree, it is necessary to consider the spread and height of the tree at maturity. Regardless of its spread, a tree should be planted at least 10 from BCTC buildings. The hole for the tree should be bowl-shaped, equal the depth of the root ball, and have a diameter two or three times wider than the root ball. Before planting, it is necessary to test drainage. To test, water is poured into the hole. If the water hasn t drained within an hour, accommodating for proper drainage is required and might include planting the tree on a slight mound or cutting some small drains.
Trees must be planted carefully, taking precautions to avoid breaking the soil ball. Plastic or anything else that would potentially girdle the tree must be removed. Once the tree ball is in the hole, the soil that was removed should be replaced (no peat moss or other amendments should be added). When about two-thirds of the hole is filled, enough water to fill the hole will be added. At this point, after the tree is stabilized in the soil, the top one-third of the burlap can be removed. After the soil has settled around the roots, the rest of the soil will be replaced to grade.
It is generally unnecessary to stake trees. In case an evergreen conifer over 3 in height or a deciduous tree over 5 in height requires staking, the straps should be soft so as not to cut into the bark. Two 6 stakes should be driven into the soil outside the planting area. Likewise, it is unnecessary (and often detrimental) to wrap trees.
Within a couple of days of planting a tree, a 2-3 layer of mulch of shredded bark or wood chips will be applied. The mulch should not bank up against the tree trunk. Mulching is important because it reduces surface evaporation, improves water infiltration, maintains a uniform soil temperature, and controls weeds.
After a tree has been planted, pruning may be appropriate if there are dead or injured branches (which can be pruned any time), or if some of the branches cross and are in contact with other branches. Cuts into living wood should be clean and not tear the bark. The cut should be just outside the branch collar rather than flush with the branch. If a tipping cut is necessary, it should be made at a 45 degree angle about above a bud that is growing in the desired direction.
It is important to remove sucker growth from the base of a tree, at soil level or even below. For trees species that flower before June, pruning should occur immediately after flowering. Trees that flower in June (or later), as well as fruit trees, are optimally pruned in the winter or early spring. Except for removing dead and broken branches, evergreens need minimal pruning. If pruning is necessary, it can be done any time that the wood is not frozen. Wound dressings and pruning sealants will not be used, as research indicates they are not helpful and can actually promote decay and insect damage.
In general, excessive pruning is detrimental, so caution will be exercised.
Like human babies, trees need extra attention when they are young. As already noted, the tree must be soaked with water immediately after being planted. Then, unless at least 1 of rain is falling per week, the soil around the tree must be watered at least every seven to ten days. It is best to water in the evening or early morning. Sprinklers are not very effective in terms of providing water to tree roots. Soaker hoses or other slow delivery systems are preferred. This regiment should be continued for two or three years after the tree is planted.
The soil around trees needs to be periodically tested to make sure that the proper nutrients are available. Nitrogen fixers, such as clover, can be used as natural fertilizers. To augment the nitrogen fixers, compost (especially vermicompost) can be applied around the base of the tree (but not touching the trunk).
Long-term maintenance of the trees will include watering, re-mulching, weeding, pruning, monitoring and replacement as necessary, straightening and adjustments, and other practices. For instance, students of permaculture learn about the value of tree guilds. Tree guilds are like a family for a tree. Around the tree and to (or beyond) the drip line the following are planted: dynamic accumulators (e.g., comfrey), natural insect/animal controls (e.g., marigolds and lavender), nitrogen fixers (e.g., clover and cowpeas), weed controls (e.g., strawberries), and other plants that are beneficial to the tree (e.g., daffodils).
In case of a catastrophic event, such as an ice storm, high priority will be given to removing tree debris that blocks roads or poses hazards to the college community or the public at large. After the college has recovered from the event, trees that are salvageable will be pruned and otherwise tended, to allow recovery. Unsalvageable trees will need to be removed.
5. Protection and Preservation Policies and Procedures:
Trees benefits are many, but trees are often taken for granted. Some activities hurt or kill a tree, taking an asset and making it into an unsightly and even hazardous liability. To avoid damaging trees, BCTC will properly site and then exercise caution around plantings.
If a new building is planned near trees, rather than immediately clearing the trees, such questions as the following should be answered: (1) Will the trees provide needed shade or block desired sunlight? (2) Will the trees protect the building from winter winds or block summer breezes, and which is more important? (3) Will the trees screen an industrial or otherwise unpleasant view or block a desirable view? (4) Are the trees healthy? (5) Will the building be far enough away from the trees to not damage their roots? and (6) What environmental benefits will the trees provide? In general, small trees can often be replaced more inexpensively than they can be saved. Large, old, valuable trees can be easily damaged during construction activities, so these old trees need to receive extra attention and care.
Unless a tree is so small that it can easily be replaced or is unhealthy (or dead), BCTC s activities must protect the trees from construction equipment, grade changes, excavation for utilities, cutting and filling, paving, footers, and storage of supplies. Machinery often damages tree trunks and low-hanging branches, but the major damage is to the root systems when the soil is compacted. Changing the grade of the land can affect the availability of the soil s oxygen, water, and nutrients.
Following are the specific measures that BCTC will take to protect trees during construction activities:
A. Fencing that is at least waist high will surround the trees to be saved, and will
be sited so as to take into account the critical root zones of the trees. Signs, with
3 high lettering at 100 intervals, will identify the enclosed area as a tree protection
area. The fencing will need to be in place until the construction is completed or
until the point beyond which activity will not adversely impact the trees.
B. Within the tree protection area, BCTC will allow no vehicles, construction materials, fuel, equipment, earth fill, or supplies (e.g., nails, ropes, cables).
C. BCTC will comply with city and county ordinances related to protection of trees during construction activities.
6. Goals and Targets:
Pictured: Grouping of sunflowers (phytoremediators and bird food) at Peace Meal Gardens
Lexington was the first city in Kentucky to assess its tree cover. While the tree canopy goal for the eastern U.S. is 40%, Lexington s tree cover is 24.6%. BCTC s overall goal is to increase our tree canopy, to provide habitat, shade, carbon sinks, and more educational opportunities. We envision the trees eventually playing a role in courses as diverse as Biology, Native American Studies, Geography/GIS, History, Chemistry, and Anthropology. Our specific goals are as follows:
A. Create tree plans for each campus over a period of two to three years. BCTC s tree
committee will begin with the Danville and Newtown campuses. Next will be Winchester
and Lawrenceburg. The final plan will be for the Leestown campus.
B. Conduct a bi-annual inventory/survey of the trees at each campus.
C. Develop tree guilds around all of the fruit trees at BCTC s community garden (Peace Meal Gardens).
D. Create an educational self-guided walking tour of Newtown s magnificent old trees.
E. Develop curricular materials for incorporation into various BCTC courses.
7. Tree Damage Assessment:
Trees can be damaged by disease, by insects, or by humans and other animals.
BCTC is concerned about the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis). In 2009, Fayette County was included in the quarantine area because of the presence of the ash borer. The tree committee and maintenance crew will continue to be vigilant, looking for the signs of the ash borer: D-shaped 1/8 exit holes in the bark, serpentine-shaped tunnels under the bark, and vertical splits in the bark.
The tree committee will be vigilant in helping the trees maintain their immunity to disease. Like humans, a tree s ability to resist infection can be caused by environmental and cultural stresses. Drought, compacted soil, confined root zones, and mechanical damage takes a toll. In the Bluegrass of Kentucky, common tree diseases are bacterial leaf scorch, Phytophthora Bleeding Canker, Powdery Mildew, Ganoderma Root Rot, Anthracnose, Dutch Elm Disease, and Rust. If tree disease appears, it is important to identify the problem early so that it can be remedied. Trees generally take a long time to grow, and they take a long time to heal so prevention of disease is by far the best strategy.
When the tree damage assessment is beyond the expertise of our BCTC faculty, we will call upon our urban arborists and other professionals to assess the damage and recommend action.
8. Prohibited Practices:
BCTC does not allow bicycles or other objects to be temporarily or permanently attached or chained to any of the campus trees.
BCTC does not allow carving or otherwise cutting into the campus trees, other than for necessary pruning.
9. Definitions of Terminology:
This application has used generally understood terminology.
Bacterial leaf scorch: This disease affects many plants. It is primarily caused by the xylem-plugging bacterium Xylella fastidiosa.
Anthracnose: This fungal disease, found in warm humid areas, is particularly destructive for dogwoods. Sunken spots of various colors on the leaves, stems, fruits, or flowers and then wilting and dying of tissues are the symptoms. It is spread by insects and mites.
Canopy: The tree canopy refers to the upper layer of mature tree crowns.
Dutch Elm Disease: This fungal disease, spread by elm bark beetles, began killing elm trees in North America early in the 20th century.
Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis): This invasive green beetle, a native of Asia and eastern Russia, was first discovered in 2002 in Michigan. Since then, it has spread to Kentucky and elsewhere. It is highly destructive to ash trees.
Ganoderma root rot: Ganoderma root rot is a fungal disease that spreads in moist soils and attacks, in particular, the roots of stressed oak trees. Left untreated, this disease will kill the tree. The defining symptom is a white-margined, reddish-brown flat structure that extends up from the roots or the base of the oak tree.
Invasive: Invasive species are not native to the Bluegrass of Kentucky. They tend to be hardy, have few natural controls, and spread quickly. They are unwanted guests in the environment because they tend to displace native species
Native: Native species evolved in the Bluegrass of Kentucky or have been in the Bluegrass so long that they are now part of natural ecosystems.
Permaculture: Permaculture is, more than anything, a way of thinking about the earth and humanity s role as part of the cycle of life and death. Practitioners seek to work in balance with natural cycles, using techniques that enhance rather than degrade the soil and life within the soil.
Phytophthora canker: This plant disease causes the inner bark and cambium to turn brown or pink. There is often bleeding of a red-brown liquid from the edges of the stem or branch lesions. The causative agent is Phytophthora spp., filamentous, fungus-like eukaryotic organisms, sometimes called water molds and downy mildews.
Powdery mildew: Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that is easy to identify. White powdery spots form on the leaves and stems.
Rust: Rust is a fungal disease. The symptoms are reddish or brown spots on the leaves or stems.
Vermicompost: Vermicompost is compost that is primarily worm castings.10. Communication Strategy:
BCTC s tree committee recognizes that in addition to the ecological and economic benefits of trees, they have tremendous educational value. Our educational and informational outreach will include developing curricular materials, posting information about campus trees on BCTC s webpage, speaking (upon request) to classes about our campus trees and their value, conducting educational tours of BCTC s community gardens, developing a self-guided walking tour of trees at the Newtown campus, and periodically hosting activity-oriented events on campus (e.g., these events may occur prior to Arbor Day, to help encourage participate in that day s events).
BCTC s expectations regarding the care with which trees are to be treated will be discussed with contractors who will be working around the trees. The applicable part of this application will be shared with the contractors as will information from the urban foresters of the county involved.
Campus Tree Program with Dedicated Annual Expenditures
Pictured: Baby fruit trees planted in April 2015 at the Newtown campus.
BCTC s student enrollment has declined. The latest FTE figure is 6,809. The Arbor Day Foundation suggests that we allocate $3.00 per student for trees, or $20,427 per year. In 2015, BCTC committed to a combination of dollars and in-kind service valued of at least $20,427 per year.
Grounds maintenance at some of our campuses is in-house and at other locations it is contracted out. The trees are cared for in all cases. While this varies from campus to campus, on average, a minimum of three hours per month per campus is spent on the trees (with most of the effort being in the summer and late fall). Routine maintenance (conservative estimate) is calculated as follows:
Picture: guilds around fruit trees at Peace Meal Gardens.
BCTC s community garden (Peace Meal Gardens) has an orchard (planted on Earth Day, 2011), a dozen Kentucky native trees (planted in 2012), about 110 Kentucky native trees (planted on Arbor Day, 2014), and about 100 Kentucky coffee trees (and others, planted on Arbor Day, 2015) that are well-tended. Plant guilds were completed around three of the fruit trees. After weeding (leaving the clover), the guilds involved a layer of cardboard then a shredded hardwood/compost mulch, followed by plantings of strawberries, comfrey, dill, daffodils, clover, coneflowers, asters, and other guild plants. Students were involved in routine care of the fruit trees and the Kentucky natives planted in 2012, 2014, and 2015.
The tree committee is committed to being the voice of the trees, in terms of ensuring their health and protection and educating our academic community about the value of trees. As part of that commitment to the trees, the most active committee members allocated a minimum of seven hours of their time in 2015 to: checking on the trees, attending presentations on trees, planting trees, leading student tree-related activities, and so on. The committee had two meetings during 2015, corresponded via email, and participated in sub-group meetings for planning and other tree-related purposes.
BCTC s 2015 Arbor Day event involved planting Kentucky Coffee trees at Peace Meal Gardens and planting fruit trees at the Newtown Campus.
Management/tending of BCTC s community/educational garden (Peace Meal Gardens) involves an average of 15 hours/week (year-round). The garden includes perennial and annual vegetables, an orchard, deciduous trees, a Monarch Way Station, honeybee hives, fruit (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), and perennial/annual flowers and shrubs.
An interesting activity in 2015 involved applying for seeds from Hiroshima s bomb survivor trees. The application was approved and seeds from an Asian Persimmon and Gingko were sent from Hiroshima s Green Legacy Initiative. Some of the seeds were started in the fall of 2015. Others will be started in the spring of 2016.
Picture: seed collectors, around the Ginkgo from which BCTC received seeds. Notice that the tree leans. Almost all of the survivor trees lean toward ground zero, as the cells were killed on that side. To see the story written about the seeds received, go to https://ukntrees.ca.uky.edu/tree-stories/hiroshima-trees.
2015 Arbor Day Observance
Pictured: BCTC and University of Kentucky students planting trees along the access road to Peace Meal Gardens.
Since 2010, BCTC has observed Arbor Day/Earth Day. In 2010, a ceremony was held to inaugurate BCTC s Peace Art Garden (different from the community garden, Peace Meal Gardens). In 2011, the orchard at our community garden was planted. In 2012 and 2013, student work parties completed projects at Peace Meal Gardens. In 2014, the 110 Kentucky native trees were planted along the access road to Peace Meal Gardens. In addition, each year we have an Earth Day/Arbor Day presentation that is open to the academic community as well as to the public.
In 2015, our Arbor Day/Earth Day presentation was given by Dr. Richard Shore. He becomes John Muir. This fascinating one-man play is always popular at BCTC, and is instrumental in helping students learn to listen to nature.
Planting activities for Arbor Day included planting about a dozen fruit trees at the Newtown Campus (in conjunction with the walking trail project). Students also planted Kentucky Coffee trees at Peace Meal Gardens (located adjacent to the Leestown Campus). In the fall of 2015, students bedded these trees down for the winter. Another Arbor Day project was the planting of about 60 blueberry bushes at Peace Meal Gardens and working on a mini-garden in front of Building A at the Leestown Campus, in front of the Oswald Building at the Cooper Campus.
2015 Service Learning Project
Pictured: beginning of the Newtown walking trail project.
Throughout the year, students are involved in many service learning projects. Our courses include BIO 113: Introduction to Biology Laboratory and BIO 121: Introduction to Ecology Laboratory. As part of these courses, students are engaged in using a dichotomous key for tree identification and other activities related to trees. Students in GEO 162: Global Environmental Issues, in the University of Kentucky s service fraternity, and in other classes requiring service participate in a variety of hands-on educational projects at Peace Meal Gardens; these projects focus on agriculture, including silviculture. Annually, several hundred students participate in service projects at Peace Meal Gardens.
Picture: baby Kentucky Coffee trees, the afternoon they were planted by BCTC and University of Kentucky students.