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Tt: Tree Pits

In regards to tree pits:
> So, all of you urban tree people, what would you do?
Agreed, weeds can be unsightly and give the neighborhood an
unkept look.  Worse yet, sometimes people cut them down with
mowers or weed eaters, this can cause damage to the bark of the
tree.  Many a tree has been girdled and killed in baltimore this
We like to mulch our trees (Surprise!).  Here's a few tips from
the poor side of town:
*  If the soil level is near or above the level of the sidewalk,
you must box the pit in.  Folks will do this with the damnedest
things.  Boards are easiest, whether 2X4s, landscaping ties, or
old floor joists from demolitioned buildings (say "Free"). 
Bricks and Belgian blocks are popular.  I've even seen logs and
scrap metal.  Just don't make it too high, you don't want to
raise the soil level on the tree more then a few inches -adding
2-4" of mulch, and nothing else, is best.
*  Before mulching, pull the weeds, roots and all.  I try to do
this after a _good_ rain, or soak the soil for a while with a
*  Loosen the soil before mulching, about an inch deep: 
sometimes this is accomplished by weeding.  This allows better
water absorption and aeration.  I use a "steel" rake, but you can
use a stick or any other thing.  Don't fret much about the feeder
roots (those closest to the surface), they are amongst the
fastest growing parts of the tree.  
> I suppose I should clarify.  Since I am not in a position to
> alter city policy with regard to the size and shape of tree
> boxes,
Who said so?  City policy in Baltimore dictates a 4' right of way
for wheel chairs, but not the size of the pit.  There is a
permitting process when working in sidewalks (in this case
changing/making tree pits), but we over look that...  Larger pits
are better for the trees and allow more room for expression of
residents (flowers? shrubs? plastic frogs?).
Hope this helps,