Urban forestry isn’t an oxymoron

Posted On September 8, 2022

The phrase “urban forest” sounds like an oxymoron. But for Beau Brodbeck, it makes perfect sense.

One needs only visit city parks in any number of metropolitan areas, or drive down Government Street in my hometown of Mobile, Alabama, to see the value of trees in an urban setting. The canopy formed by Mobile’s live oaks over the city’s main east-west thoroughfare creates a signature effect that leaves an impression.

Commercial or residential, trees typically add value to a property — and not just aesthetic value.

As an Auburn University Extension Specialist focused on urban forestry, Brodbeck’s job is to manage urban trees and treescapes and to educate municipalities and organizations on how to keep their trees lush and thriving.

Our guest in a recent episode of “What’s Working with Cam Marston,” Brodbeck is out there preaching the gospel of preservation. “We always think about planting trees, and that’s certainly a way to go,” he said, “but it’s more efficient to maintain what you have.”

Whether that be protecting trees during storms or preserving them during construction or renovations, Brodbeck said the biggest misconception most people have about trees may be the most important to preservation – the size and properties of root systems.

“Eighty to 90 percent of a tree’s root system is located in the top 18 to 20 inches of soil profile,” he said. “They’re shallow.”

Brodbeck also shared:

  • Tips for pruning
  • Which trees are best at withstanding high winds
  • How to tell when a tree is dying or has a damaged root system
  • The importance of consulting a certified arborist (to find one, visit isa-arbor.com or treesaregood.org)

And, a topic in which I am personally invested: Live oaks grow more quickly than commonly believed.

Committed to education and sharing the latest research, Brodbeck does frequent workshops and is available for lectures to municipal or homeowner groups on urban tree care and management. Visit aces.edu and type his name in the directory for his contact information.

Categories: Blog, Podcast, What's Working with Cam Marston