Tree care begins in the soil – how did this way of working evolve?

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On October 16th 1987 the Great Storm ripped across the southern half of the UK.  Millions of trees were lost.  Kew Gardens in London lost over 700 trees but out of that disaster came a new understanding of how soil structure and ecology relates directly to the health, vitality and resilience of trees.  Tony Kirkham, Head of the Arboretum has cited this event as a turning point in the management of the trees at Kew.

One of Kew’s trees in particular, a Turners Oak, Quercus x turneri, planted in the 1770’s  had quite literally been lifted in the ground by the force of the wind and dumped back down again.  Prior to the storm this tree had been showing signs of stress and severe decline. The storm ‘damage’ was thought to be the final nail in the coffin and this tree was scheduled to be felled.

As the clearing and replanting got underway at the arboretum this tree began to show signs of renewed vigour and growth.  The decision to fell was reconsidered and year on year this tree continued to improve.  The reason for the recovery of this tree was fairly simple.  Nature had actually decompacted the soil around this tree by physically lifting it in the ground. This allowed increased drainage and aeration, improving soil structure.  The mass of microorganisms in the soil increased and roots could grow and function in a much better way.

And so Kew began a program of decompaction around many of their older established trees.  Techniques and machinery have evolved since then and Kew now uses both the Air Spade and the Vogt Geo Injector to deliver their tree care program at the arboretum.

At Geo Tree we use the same equipment and products to bring this service to your trees.

The loosened soil was then treated with a suitable mulch of composted wood chip and/or horse manure to ‘feed’ the symbiotic fungi and roots below.  Kew Gardens continue to apply these measures to promote the health and longevity of their trees.