Oak trees were planted on the grounds of the 1898 Douglas County Courthouse after World War II to memorialize the 23 Douglas County residents who died in the war. The trees were seriously affected in 1956 when the Courthouse burned and very few remain due to the fire effects, disease, and other reasons.
One of the memorial trees, a large Water Oak at the southwest corner of the Old Courthouse, is showing signs of distress. Oak trees “tell” when they are in distress by increasing the number of acorns it produces and drops, and last autumn the ground was covered, alerting Douglas County Property Management Office Manager and Certified Arborist Gail Woody to the problem.
Due to the urban surroundings of the tree, including concrete sidewalks, asphalt pavement and surrounding flower beds, the tree’s roots have been cramped and negatively affected.
Enter Matt DuCharme of Alternative Environments Landscape Management, Inc., of Villa Rica. Alternative Environments offered its services free of charge in an effort to help save the WWII memorial tree. On Monday, April 22, they began a Deep Root and Aeration System on the Water Oak. A low volume of air at high pressure is released to fracture the soil around the tree’s root system. A probe is then inserted and a precise release of trace elements and beneficial microbes is injected directly into the root zone giving the tree a much needed boost.
The WWII memorial Water Oak has a diameter of about 40 inches, and Alternative Environments made 40 injections into the soil, one for each inch of tree diameter. Technician Rusty Wyler and Mr. DuCharme performed the first injections which will occur semi-annually (Spring and Autumn) for the next three years. Alternative Environments, along with Mrs. Woody and Douglas County Arborist Scott Daniell, will monitor the tree and take measurements and observations.
The Deep Root and Aeration System was used in Biloxi, Mississippi, after Hurricane Katrina to save the large oaks that were damaged by flood waters and wind, as well as at the Flint RiverQuarium after the 2009 floods in Albany.
Alternative Environments Technician Rusty Wyler treating the WWII Memorial Water Oak at the Old Douglas County Courthouse