Most people get excited about new things, like cars, buildings, and yes, newly planted trees. But what was once new, soon becomes old, and with age comes the question of maintenance. Preventive or proactive maintenance sets the stage to provide greater service life, and if done correctly, preventive maintenance should cost less than delaying maintenance. For properly planted and maintained trees, a greater, overall value of the urban forest is a likely result. Human nature, however, means that we may often ask: Why maintain today what we can delay until another day? Indeed, what’s the worst that can happen—except, possibly, paying more later than what we would pay in the present.
Maintenance considerations ideally begin before planting. Selecting a plant during the design phase that is compatible with a site helps prevent future conflicts requiring maintenance.
The cost of not maintaining trees results in a loss of net benefits from urban trees.
For more information, see Bob Stanley’s presentation to urban forestry professionals at the Community Forestry Conference in Tulsa, OK.