COVINGTON — Master arborist and “tree doctor” Dan Bauer has some new patients to attend — the dozen or so trees on Covington’s downtown Square.
Bauer said his company, Arbor Equity, has contracted with the city to provide care for the mature trees that have been stressed by city life in order to help increase their longevity.
Bauer said the trees — magnolias, a pecan, several red maples and a couple of oaks — are in need of some TLC. His company began the work Wednesday.
“There are heavily compacted soils and (the trees) are in decline,” Bauer said. “There is heavy mistletoe infestation. (Wednesday) we will be alleviating some of the compaction under the large magnolias and pruning out the mistletoe where we can get it.”
Over the course of a year-long contract, Bauer said his company will fertilize the trees, prune dead limbs and low-hanging limbs, provide insect control and work to improve cables that support the structural integrity of some of the trees.
“Removal is not an option for any one of these trees — I know that,” he said.
None of the trees is in need of being removed at this time, he added.
“Obviously, they are all stressed in their own right, and we are going to work to encourage the health and longevity of them,” he said.
Bauer said there may need to be improvements made to the irrigation system that is already in place on the Square.
“There is an irrigation system for the turf,” he said, “and they are irrigating for the lawn and the turf, but it’s not enough water for mature trees.”
Bauer said his contract with the city calls for monthly payments of about $1,200, which also includes care for the trees at Academy Springs Park.
The city came under criticism from the Covington Tree Preservation Board in November when members wrote an open letter to the Citizen calling for more care for the trees. The board also asked that tree board funding cuts be restored or that a professional arborist be hired to provide tree maintenance.
The city recently took over maintenance of the Square Park through a memorandum of understanding with Newton County, which owns the park. That agreement dictates that the city will provide maintenance for the park but that permanent changes would have to be approved by the county. The agreement also spells out that the city and county have each identified the Square as a component of their economic development strategies and that events on the Square will be held to promote tourism and economic development.
Bauer said he felt it was particularly appropriate that the city was taking a more aggressive approach toward protecting the trees this month, as Feb. 20 marks Arbor Day in Georgia.
Bauer, who provides consulting services to several communities, said he would be speaking at Covington’s Arbor Day observance on Feb. 21, as well as at observances in Newborn on Feb. 22 and Mansfield on Feb. 24.