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Tree News • Fall 2019

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From the Forester

At the conclusion of my classes with the Tree Commission Academy this fall, I will have finished the drafting of a City Tree Plan. This plan will be brought before the Tree Advisory Board for discussion before it will be submitted to City Council.
To date this year, City Crews have pruned 932 trees, removed 75, and cleaned up 58 due to storm damage. We have been struggling to keep up with the work orders because we were temporarily understaffed. 

We have seen a rise in tree removals due to car accidents this year versus last year. For those accidental losses, we will remove and replace the trees and assess the value charged to the insurance company through our Risk Management Department. There have also been trees removed and replaced due to Dominion Ohio gas line replacement projects and we are inspecting both before and after gas line installation to make sure any tree removal is a necessity and to ensure that the restoration of the surrounding area is in accordance with City standards.

Charles Orlowski
Forester, City of Shaker Heights
Doan Brook Watershed Partnership logo
Open Invitation to the Doan Brook Watershed Partnership’s Annual Meeting

On Wednesday, November 13 from 5:30-8 pm, The Doan Brook Watershed Partnership will host its annual meeting at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (1 Wade Oval, Cleveland, 44106). Darryl Haddock of the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance will be the keynote speaker presenting his efforts to facilitate equitable watershed protection while growing community voices for water quality health and greenspace access. This meeting is open to all watershed residents. There will be an hour of mix and mingle over food and spirits. There is no admission cost. Parking is available on Wade Oval or in the museum garage for $10. RSVP to 216-325-7781 or  

White Oak tree at Lower Lake
View of the damaged White Oak after the storm
View of the stump of the White Oak remaining at Lower Lake

Plans for 300-year-old Heritage Tree White Oak at Lower Lake

The storm on September 13 that produced 1.5 inches of rainfall in fifteen minutes also featured devastating microbursts that ripped out many mature trees along the shores of Lower Shaker Lake by their roots. City forestry crews worked together with Shaker Police and Fire Departments around the clock to deal with the many emergencies created by this 200-year storm. Because of their immediate response, there was fortunately no loss of human life. However, among the trees lost was a 300-year-old White Oak at Lower Lake destroyed by a microburst that struck with the force of an F-1 tornado. This White Oak, recently identified as a Moses Cleaveland tree, had just been named a recipient of a 2019 Heritage Tree Award. It had the second largest canopy for any White Oak in all of Shaker Heights. The estimated age was 318 years old and it measured approximately 200 feet tall with a trunk width of 4 feet 5 inches.
The good news is that its historic importance will be remembered thanks to the combined efforts of several City Departments, the Doan Brook Watershed Partnership, the Friends of Lower Lake and the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes. The Doan Brook Watershed Partnership will auction sections of the tree as a fundraiser to help plant more trees. The Nature Center will be host to a large log to honor the mighty Oak and the City has left several feet of the stump in place so that children and visitors to the parklands can count its many rings.
Magnolia Tree Row in Shaker Heights

Magnolia Tree Row Gets a Facelift

Many years ago, the Shaker Heights Forestry Department began planting a tree every Arbor Day in a ceremony involving students from a Shaker School. If you have ever strolled down the walking path at Southerly Park you may have noticed the variety of Magnolia species planted in this area of the Shaker parklands. Unfortunately, over the years due to Midwest climate extremes and deer, several of the trees in Magnolia Row have died.

This year, thanks to a generous gift from the Gay and Lesbian Fund of The Hermes Foundation, Magnolia Row is looking rejuvenated and healthy. Through the grant, Davey Tree pruned the existing Magnolias and replaced six failing trees.


Gator bag around a tree

Gator Bags and Watering New Tree Lawn Trees

The past hot summer weather with less rainfall resulted in residents calling Public Works to report their new trees planted in the tree lawn were looking bad or failing. While the rainy spring was great for our newly planted street trees, once summer came, our newly planted street trees became stressed by the lack of water.

When trees are transplanted, nearly all of their fibrous roots are left behind in the nursery and they struggle to replace the lost roots. Our planting contractor waters twice a month but we need the help of residents to water in times of drought and extreme heat. During the spring and summer, if the leaves of your newly planted tree are looking limp or yellow please fill the Gator Bag that is around the base of the tree (see photo). It is designed for the slow release and absorption of water directly over the roots of the newly planted tree where it is needed.
Fall leaves

Recycle Your Organic Yard Waste!

Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District has a way you can recycle your organic yard waste such as leaves, grass clippings and wood chips: mulch them with your lawnmower or leaf blower and leave them on your flower beds or yard. This organic matter improves the soil as it decomposes over the winter. The leaf mulch keeps the soil moist while also adding nutrients and regulating the temperature. If you have more leaves than you can mulch, consider starting a compost pile that will be ready to enrich your garden soil next spring.

If you do rake leaves to the tree lawn, be sure to keep them out of the street, because leaves can clog storm drains leading to our waterways.
Participants in Lower Lake tree planting event

 Collaborative Tree Planting Event

A year-long collaboration between the City’s Tree Advisory Board, Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District, Friends of Lower Lake, Hermes Foundation and the Doan Brook Watershed Partnership culminated in a group tree planting project on October 4 at Lower Shaker Lake. Thirty volunteers helped to plant 14 diverse species of trees along the south shore of the lake. These trees will enhance the natural beauty and quality of life in Shaker Heights and attract hikers, nature watchers and cyclists to this restored area.
This project that focused on improving the tree canopy at Lower Lake came at an opportune moment following the very destructive storm of September 13 that resulted in the loss of many mature trees on the shores of Lower Shaker Lake. It was also a good fit with CSWCD’s “Slow it down, Spread it out, Soak it in” campaign as well as National Public Lands Day promoted by Doan Brook Watershed Partnership. In addition, the project complemented the ongoing efforts of the Friends of Lower Lake, a volunteer group working under the aegis of the Doan Brook Watershed Partnership, to remove non-native, highly invasive vegetation from this area and replace it with native woodland shrubs, trees and plants that benefit wildlife as well as people. Volunteers planted the 14 trees in open areas of the park. Four additional trees will be planted next spring.
This collaborative project received funding from the Gay and Lesbian Fund of The Hermes Foundation.
City officials and award winning students at Arbor Day event

Arbor Day 2019

On April 26, to all who came out in the cold and rain to celebrate Arbor Day 2019 at Gridley Park, thank you! With the help of Lomond School’s Native Garden Club led by its sponsor, Lomond art teacher Tim Kalan, we planted the Tulip Poplar that now stands sentinel on the southwest corner of Gridley Park. Thanks to the forethought of City Forester Chuck Orlowski, there was a tent to protect Mayor Weiss, Vice Mayor Anne Williams as well as many residents and students from the soggy spring weather. The Tree Advisory Board gave Tim Kalan three flowering crabapple trees donated by Gali’s Florist & Garden Center. The trees were planted in the area of the Lomond School Learning Garden. Kristen Miller from the Shaker Schools posted a great photo on Facebook of the kids enthusiastically shoveling in the rain!
The Children’s Arbor Day Poster & PoeTREE Contest Awards also were held that afternoon at the Shaker Heights Public Library. Jointly sponsored by the Tree Advisory Board, the Library and Gali’s Florist & Garden Center, the contest awarded certificates and live flowering Crabapple trees to student award winners (shown above). 


City Forester accepting Tree City Award

Tree City USA

On May 8, the City of Shaker Heights received its 34th Tree City USA Award, placing among the most highly honored cities in northeast Ohio. Shaker Heights also received its 8th Growth Award. This recognition is for the growth of professional training and forestry programs. There is only one other city in the region that has surpassed this achievement. 

Heritage Tree Award winners for 2019

2019 Heritage Tree Awards

The Heritage Tree Award is given annually by the City of Shaker Heights and its Tree Advisory Board to trees associated with a famous person, historic event, or historic landmark. The award also honors trees of unusual size, form, age or other unusual quality. Any resident can nominate a tree by completing and submitting the Heritage Tree nomination form online.

Joyce and George Becker 

Years ago when Joyce and George Becker moved to their home at 23802 Duffield Rd., one of the features that that attracted them was an enormous Metasequoia or Dawn Redwood (pictured left above) standing sentinel in the side yard. This second recipient of the 2019 Heritage Tree Award has a circumference that measures almost five feet from its base and is more than 80 feet tall with a crown spread of over 30 feet. This Metasequoia was originally planted as a Shaker High School science project in the 1960s by the child of the original owners of the home. The seeds came  from China,  germinated and became this majestic tree. The Metasequoia is home to many types of wildlife and it supplies abundant fruit that prolifically reseeds throughout the yard and gardens.

Jeff Mostade, Eric Nilson and Varun Shetty

Jeff Mostade, Eric Nilson and Varun Shetty, the owners of 2886 West Park Boulevard, received the 2019 Heritage Tree Award for their CockspurHawthorn tree (pictured right above) that is more than 40 years old and was part of the original landscape that dates to 1940 when the house was built. The centerpiece of the backyard, this tree is unusual for its kind, having survived longer than other specimens of this species. The red berries that develop in late summer and autumn are a source of food for wildlife despite the tree’s thorns and the white flowers on the spreading canopy of the mature specimen beautify the grounds of this property in the spring.

Did You Know?

Plant Trees in Spring or Fall

The best time to plant a tree is in the dormant season—in the fall after leaf drop or in the spring before budbreak. Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District has proper tree planting and care instructions on its website.

Practice Proper Salting to Reduce Water Pollution

Road salt (sodium chloride) only works above 15 degrees Fahrenheit and and works best when applied before the snow falls or right after the snow is removed from your sidewalk or driveway. For colder temps use a small amount of sand for traction or switch to an ice melting product that will work at colder temps. Never put salt on your lawn, flower beds or the base of a tree. When salt washes into a stream, one teaspoon of salt permanently pollutes five gallons of water! One 12-oz. mug of salt is enough to cover 10 sidewalk squares. There should be three inches between salt granules. Sweep up any excess salt or sand to prevent it from washing into our waterways.

Share Your Ideas

The restoration of trees remains among the most effective strategies for climate effect mitigation! There is an urgent need for action to achieve this goal through global tree restoration efforts. What more could we as residents be doing to increase our tree canopy in Shaker Heights? Send an email to Tree Advisory Board Chair Nancy Moore.
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