This week we're into black gold, volcanoes, ash, and
We just wanted to say we're so excited about compost being
available in our city. Our department of public works is composting
and we can go pick up what we need. We want all our neighbors to
know so the program continues!
- D.S., and J.C. -
I understand your excitement at having this resource.
For years, gardeners have envied cities with compost programs for
For those who do not have access to compost through their own
DPW, call landscape supply firms and ask for it. The more we ask,
the more likely it is that our suppliers will wise up and begin
buying it in bulk from wholesale producers, or citys will begin
(Some people do have concerns
about municipal compost and other compost produced on a large
Green thumbs up to great growers
to all those people who don't have to but do stay in the growing
business so we can benefit from their long lifetime
Green thumbs down to mulch volcanoes
We're talkin' grrrrrrrrreen! Mulch against the trunk and deeper
than 3 inches is certain death for a tree. I've thumbed this down
for four years but it seems the offenders are not listening.
Perhaps it's time to mobilize our forces, gardeners, and start
going out to talk to the crews we see stacking mulch deep around
and against the trunks of trees. If the perpetrators won't listen,
send me the company name so I can start a Landscape Company
Hall of Shame list.
2012 update to this report originally made in
It's occurred to us that trees need a champion, someone to stand
up and say, "Stamp out volcano mulching" and have the impact that
movie star Christopher Lloyd had in raising awareness of spinal
injuries, or Lady Bird Johnson had for the native plant
So far, we can't think of the right person, but we're taking suggestions at the Forum!
Don't tell me you're planting maples!
It's nice that you write to thank me for sending you the list of
tree species to replace ash trees, but please don't credit me that
your "neighborhood is choosing red maple." Maples are not on my
list, for good reason. They're beautiful trees but vastly
overplanted, making up 50 percent of the urban forest in many
cities. Ashes are only 11 percent of the landscape yet the
devastation wrought by the current plague of emerald ash borer is
awesome. If you don't live in or near a formerly tree-lined
neighborhood which now has no street trees, you will
This will happen again. It happened to Lombardy poplar and black
locust in the 1800's and to billions of American chestnut and
American elm in the 1900's. Unbroken acres and miles of
single-species plantings made the spread of each disease or insect
more sure and swift. In the replanting we do now, gardeners need to
take the lead in lobbying for diversity as a defense.
Copies of my list of less common trees that are good
replacements for ash, including full descriptions and local sources
for these trees, are available in exchange for a long,
self-addressed, stamped envelope plus one loose stamp to cover copy
costs. Send the envelope to me at the address at the end of this
Prune harder, less often.
For less work, work smarter. If you take up hedge shears and
prune your shrubs three or four times each summer, taking off three
or four inches each time, break the cycle. Cut them now by 12
inches. It's a deep cut but have no fear. Everything except
juniper, arborvitae, pine and spruce can take it.
Originally published 4/24/04.