Tree Care Awareness
Urbana prizes its trees – especially those that are historic, unique and very old. The Urbana Park District cares for several trees of this type on its properties. Recently, a few have been struggling and the district wants to share their ongoing care plan. An English Oak in Carle Park and a White Oak in Leal Park have been the top priority for care due to their importance to the community and environment.
English Oaks in Carle Park
Carle Park is lucky to have two notable English Oaks. One of the oaks, on the southeast side of the pavilion standing 91 feet tall and more than 12 feet around in circumference, is the second largest recorded English Oak in the United States. The park district has done much over the last decade to extend the life of these notable oaks. Staff and tree consultants have mulched around the tree drip lines, used an air spade to alleviate compaction in the root zone, fertilized, and applied a growth hormone on two occasions that promotes root growth. More recently, some large branches had to be removed as part of a dead wood pruning that occurred two years ago. Staff consulted with both Mike Brunk, City of Urbana Arborist, and Arborsmith of Urbana on these treatments and they note that recent severe winters and hot dry summers have been impacting a number of large oaks in the community. They advise continued treatments and watering of the trees during period of drought. As workers fertilize, mulch, and water the trees, signs of age continue.
White Oak in Leal Park
On the property since 1787, one towering 100-foot White Oak in Leal Park has also showed its age over the last several years. Efforts to improve the tree’s health include wood chipping, growth hormone application, and air spading, to alleviate compaction following construction activities that took place at the adjacent Historic Greek Revival Cottage.
Overall Tree Care
Park district grounds staff members work to ensure the trees in Urbana’s parks and natural areas remain as healthy as possible. However, sometimes trees may naturally begin to decline as they age and the park district is committed to a comprehensive tree replanting program to ensure a healthy urban forest in the future. The park district has planted over 300 trees within the last 3 years, many through the generosity of donors. In addition to watering our historic trees, grounds workers water recently planted trees frequently due to the dry summer conditions.
“It takes the staff about one week to water approximately 300 trees,” said Grounds Maintenance Supervisor Rich McMahon. Newly-planted trees are watered for three years.
As the Urbana Park District continues to plant and care for the next generation of park trees, staff will continue to care for these historic trees to maintain their longevity as long as possible.
Questions? Call the Planning and Operations Office at 217-344-9583