Don't take campus trees for granted

“In approximately eight years, the University of Akron has spent thousands of dollars on landscaping in the Landscape for Learning project. However, the new look of campus may be in for a serious problem that will cost UA more money to fix later. According to one student, all the trees on campus will die in the next five years due to a poor horticultural practice.”

In approximately eight years, the University of Akron has spent thousands of dollars on landscaping in the Landscape for Learning project.

However, the new look of campus may be in for a serious problem that will cost UA more money to fix later. According to one student, all the trees on campus will die in the next five years due to a poor horticultural practice.

James Simonelli, a student in the 60-plus program at the university, was first made aware of this problem by his wife Mary, a volunteer in the Ohio State University Extension Master Gardener program.

She dropped me off at my class one day and commented on how bad the horticultural practices were that they were using on the trees here, Simonelli said.

The trees are being very stressed and it makes them more likely to fall to insect damage, and it makes it more likely that the roots will freeze, or if there’s a drought like we had this year, the tree may not survive, Mary Simonelli said. It’s just a very bad horticultural practice to do to trees.

Horticulturists call this volcano mulching.

According to research done by the Missouri Department of Conservation, volcano mulching occurs when mulch is piled up against a tree, in a volcano style.

Not only does it cause the inner bark tissue to die from too much moisture, but it creates the ideal environment for insects to infest the tree and leads to rodents chewing on it. Root rotting and improper growth of roots are also affected by the mounding.

Simonelli has been concerned about the state of the trees for quite some time and has talked to some of the grounds keepers about their practices.

The men who do the groundswork know it is a bad practice, he said. Unfortunately, they have had no orders to undo the volcano mulching of the trees.

According to Simonelli, if the mulching is not changed soon, insects will soon infest the bark of the trees.

It would be a shame to see all that tuition money go to waste, he said.

Simonelli contacted the head gardener at UA, who did not respond to his calls. He also contacted the board of trustees and received a similar response.

The lady at the office of the board of trustees gave me numbers, and I left messages with everyone, he said. No one’s contacted me at all.

Simonelli said he has spoken with some of the groundskeepers about this and he said they feel like they are fighting city hall.

They know it is a bad practice, but they have had no authorization to undo the mulching, he said. If it’s not changed soon, the insects will start to infest them.

He said he has spoken with groundskeepers who tell him that contractors did the mulching and that they have no say in how that work is done.

What needs to be done is someone needs to evaluate the contracts that are given out, Simonelli said. The work is being more damaging than beneficial.

Simonelli is used to working with all different kinds of people but is not used to being shut out.

Nobody wants to do anything, he remarked. I’ve worked all over the world. Normally when I talk to people, I get a response.

A graduate of Manhattan College three years after Rudy Guliani graduated, Simonelli worked for the Secret Service in New York City.

He also lived in Israel and India. Now he is taking a Chinese language class at UA.

The academic resources are wonderful – the environment is pleasant and stimulating, Simonelli said.

Building relationships with the students and the faculty and staff is very rewarding.

Simonelli’s love for the academics at UA, however, is not mirrored in his feelings toward the administration.

Someone needs to evaluate the contractors’ work, he said. I’m asking some serious questions about the people who are holding the purse strings of the university.

No one is doing their job properly and is concerned about the funds that are going out – they will have to pay the grounds people to undo the work that the contractors did.

The university’s public relations office did not have a comment at this time.

I’m not some nut, Simonelli said. I’m a very concerned guy who wants to see something done.


” #1.1361608:3547121318.jpg:20071030_tree4.jpg:Hundreds of trees dot UA’s campus. However, if the university doesn’t change its gardening practices, the trees may be dead within five years.:”