News: Work to save 120 year old Atlas cedar tree in Lyndhurst underway

Tree contractors working with the air spade at Appletree Court in Lyndhurst

Visitors to Appletree Court, NFDC’s main offices in Lyndhurst, may have seen an odd sight last week (21 March 2019) when strangely dressed tree contractors were poking holes and injecting air into the lawn as part of work to save an Atlas cedar tree.

The cedar tree, estimated to be 120 years old, is showing symptoms related to root damage; sparse leaf cover, branches dying back from their tips, and wood decay fungus at the base.

Mark Bursey, NFDC Tree Officer, said, “This tree has suffered declining health for a number of years, which is a great shame as it is such an impressive sight.”

“Compaction of the soil is overwhelmingly likely to be the major factor in the tree’s decline.  As the soil is compacted by either vehicles or just years of pedestrian footfall, the soil particles are squeezed closer together, squeezing out any air, which creates a hostile environment for root growth, as they need air to function.

This causes roots to die, a big problem for tree health.”

Atlas Cedar tree

Atlas Cedar tree

After confirming the tree’s stability and safety, the Council’s arboriculturalists decided to take action to reverse the tree’s declining health and use de-compaction of the root-zone, “This is the single best method to improving a tree’s health.

By injecting air into the ground right the way down to a depth of 4ft, the roots are again able to breathe, stimulating new roots to grow to enable the tree to take up more water, nutrients and minerals from the soil.”

For this work, an ‘air-spade’ was connected to a high powered compressor that forces air through the lance, creating a supersonic stream to penetrate and break up hard soils.

The only evidence this work has taken place is small holes in the lawn, which will soon be reseeded.

The unusual looking outfits were worn as soil can spray up in small dust-like particles, therefore eye protection is essential, breathing apparatus required in case of inhalation or swallowing, and the oversuit is to keep clothes clean.

The tree will be monitored over the coming years to measure the effects of this de-compaction work, and it is hoped, safeguard the tree for future generations to enjoy.

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