Lexington's Town Tree Committee, in looking for ways to reduce the cost of planting street trees in the town, has partnered with the Conservation Commission, the Friends of Trees, and the Department of Public Works to begin a tree nursery for the town.
Located on a formerly farmed piece of conservation land off East Street, the nursery has enough acreage to provide about five years' rotation of sapling trees. This year, on April 28th, workers installed the first planting of 125 trees of 1" caliper, which can hopefully be transplanted out to the streets in three to four years. A subsequent planting of 125 is expected to take place each year from now on.
The site was prepared by the DPW under Superintendent of Public Grounds David Pinsonneault. First having cut the brush down, they used an auger to bore the required number of 19" holes in the field. Twenty-four workers then sprang into action. First they attached a label to each tree, and trimmed the roots to a standard size. Then they dipped each bare-rooted tree in hydrogel, a jelly-like substance that will help maintain moisture on the roots. Carrying them to the prepared holes, the volunteers then filled in with dirt and finally mulched them. The trees were planted in fiber root bags that will help contain the roots in a more compact ball, making the eventual transplant easier to dig without root damage.
Those participating in the enjoyable and productive day were 7 members of the newly-formed Friends of Trees, 9 Lexington High School students, a neighbor of the farm, 2 citizens of the town, 1 DPW employee, and 7 Tree Committee members.
Among the varieties planted this first year were:
In subsequent years other species will be chosen.
Some Lexingtonians will remember that there used to be a tree nursery in front of the DPW building, run by Tree Warden Paul Mazerall. For several reasons it was discontinued, not the least of which was reduction in the number of DPW employees and thus a shortage of labor to care for it. The Tree Committee hopes that by using volunteer labor to plant, by using the new technique of root bags, and by leaving the majority of the land in grass with a once-yearly mowing, that they will be able to supply economically-produced trees for the town's streets and parks.
The installed cost of these small trees runs to around $25 each, but presumably they will need very few additional resources until they are harvested. Compare this with a landscape-sized commercial nursery tree that runs from $200 to $350.