Tag Archive | "trees"

Jackson Dodds & Company Inc. Tree & Plant Health Care Gets Homeowners Ready for Spring

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Jackson Dodds of Jackson Dodds & Company Inc.

Jackson Dodds of Jackson Dodds & Company Inc. Photo by Steven Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

If you want to catch Jackson Dodds, the owner of the landscaping company of the same name, sitting still, you’ll have to move quickly.

After a long and tough winter, Mr. Dodds said he is anticipating a very short window this spring to prune storm-damaged trees, clean up and prepare gardens for the season, repair damage to driveways and curbs caused by snowplows, and get irrigation systems up and running, all jobs his full-service company handles.

“Everybody is going to be really busy,” he said of the trade in general during an interview in his Southampton office. “So if you want to get on the schedule, don’t wait a month because we’re going to have a really condensed season.”

Every spring seems to bring a different challenge, said Mr. Dodds. Last year, it was damage from Hurricane Sandy. This year, ‘it’s been a brutal winter, and the deer damage is obscene,” he said. “A lot of deer-resistant plant material has been completely defoliated.”

Mr. Dodds, who grew up on what today is the Wolffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, said he always wanted to “work outside” and the East End was one of the few places that offered the opportunity “where you could be a landscaper and still make a living.”

“I started dragging brush right of high school,” after landing a job with Ray Smith and Associates 19 years ago, where he was soon made a partner, Mr. Dodds said, adding that he was proud that he was the youngest certified arborist in New York State at age 18 and today is the vice president of the Long Island Arboricultural Association.

Mr. Dodds attended both Alfred State College and the State University of New York at Delhi before later completing his education at Farmingdale State College, where he received degrees in landscape design and turf management with a minor in business. “Farmingdale is a great school on Long Island for horticulture,” Mr. Dodds said.

Three years ago, he made the break to form his own company. Today, Jackson Dodds and Company has 14 employees, spread over four divisions, landscape design and installation, tree pruning and removal, irrigation and lawn care and planting.

During his career, Mr. Dodd said he has seen everything, including a trend that started in the mid-1990s before pausing for a few years when the economy tanked in 2007: the removal of full-size specimen trees from one property to be planted on another property, where the homeowner wants an instantly mature landscape.

“They say, ‘the first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps and the third year it leaps,’” Mr. Dodd said about tree transplants, although he quickly added that mature trees sometimes take a couple of more years to recover. “The after-care is everything,” he said. “That is where we carve out a niche, watching the plant’s health and care, prepping the soil and feeding.”

And how big are these trees? Last year, Mr. Dodds said his crew used a 110-ton crane to move a tree that had a 108-inch root ball. “Some of my clients move trees like they move furniture,” he said. “Nothing is too big.”

Fruit orchards are another specialty. “Fruit trees require a very specific timing on when you apply fungicide to the leaves,” he said. “You have to do everything to keep the leaf healthy to keep the fruit healthy. If you miss the timing, your fruit turns into a shriveled up prune.”

Mr. Dodd smiles when asked about organic plant care. It doesn’t work on orchards, he said, and the problem with it is “it typically doesn’t give the kind of results people expect out here.”

That’s not to say he is an advocate of wholesale applications of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Mr. Dodd said he used integrated pest management system and coordinates the applications with the temperature at which they will do the most good and the least harm. “We all have to drink the same water here,” he said, “so we’re by the book when it comes to that.”

For more information on Jackson Dodds & Company Inc., visit jacksondoddsinc.com or call 604-5693. 

School Seeks Task Force For Master Plan

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By Claire Walla

Over the next three years, the Sag Harbor School District will draft a master plan for buildings and grounds, which will guide how the school will look and function in the future.

Currently, it’s a very preliminary plan.

This preliminary sketch, put together by the district’s Buildings and Grounds Director Montgomery “Monty” Granger, was presented to the Sag Harbor School Board at a regular meeting last Wednesday, April 18. Rather than refer to it as a working draft, however, Granger was careful to note that the presentation merely laid-out ideas for both campuses — they are nowhere near set in stone.

“I want to make a disclaimer that what you’re about to see is my opinion,” Granger told the crowd. In fact, he added, the purpose of his presentation was to request that the board set-up a task force, “to help me go forward with some of the things you’re about to see.”

Granger read from four bullet points listed on one of the slides, which illustrated the district’s philosophy on improving buildings and grounds: “health and safety first,” “clean and green,” “curb appeal” and “restore and refurbish.”

As he explained, the current school configuration toes the line between newer buildings and historic preservation.  During his presentation, Granger focused on the latter.

After showing several older versions of Pierson Middle/High School as depicted in black-and-white postcards and photographs, he emphasized that the grounds used to be more stark, open lawns giving way to the sight of the building more readily than they do now.  There also used to be a flag at the top of the bell tower.

Granger suggested removing the current flagpole on the lawn, as well as clearing away some of the foliage.  To highlight his point, he referenced two pictures of the brick, Pierson building with trees and bushes taking up most of the frame.

“If this were music,” he commented, “this would be cacophony, or noise.”

Other improvements could include installing new tennis/basketball courts on the elementary school campus, installing synthetic turf fields at the middle/high school, adding paved areas and benches to the Pierson drop-off area by the gym and the area just outside the cafeteria, as well as paving the parking spaces where the school district currently stores its buses.

Additionally, Granger mentioned the need to create a master plan for all trees that would pertain to both campuses. And he mentioned the sign at the base of the middle/high school, which, in his opinion, is far too small.

“I just can’t read it,” he added.  “You can go bigger and put information up there that people can read.”

At that point, Granger showed an image of an LED flat screen message board.

“It’s a little 42nd Street,” he admitted.  “I just wanted to get the creative juices flowing.”

After Granger floated the idea of installing an LED screen at the corner of Jermain Avenue and Division Street, board member Chris Tice pressed the need for community involvement.

“It’s important to involve the neighbors in this conversation,” she noted.  “Particularly the ones that live across the street.”

Ideally, the proposed task force would involve both members of the school district and members of the community, Granger said.

Schools to Cut Trees and Shrubs for Safety

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Norway Maple (invasive breed, remove)-1

When Montgomery Granger took over the position of Pierson athletics director and facilities supervisor in August, one of his first orders of business was to assess the landscaping on campus. From mint green holly bushes at the front entrance of the high school to a privet hedge in the back of the elementary school, the district boasts an impressive array of foliage. After surveying the grounds last week with tree expert Bill Miller, Granger learned that several of these trees and shrubs don’t meet state regulations. These plants, said Granger, must be cut down or removed to comply with the Safe Schools Against Violence in Education (SAVE) Act. This state legislation was passed in 2000 in the wake of the Columbine school shootings and outlines safety protocol at public schools.

According to the SAVE guidelines, shrubs must be pruned down to three feet and the height of trees is capped at eight feet.

“The idea is to have a clear view across campus,” explained Granger. “If we had a criminal on campus we want to make sure there is no place for them to hide.”

However, this also means that the privet hedge will be trimmed down and the holly bushes will be removed. On the Division Street entrance to the middle school, the weeping cedars will be pruned to provide better visibility. Granger plans to clip or relocate several flowering bushes along a wall of the elementary school.

A few of Granger’s suggestions are purely aesthetic. He hopes to extract the Norway maple in front of the elementary school entrance on Route 114 to create symmetry. The maple’s partner tree died and in the summer months the maple’s leaves cover over the name of the school etched onto the building.

Granger presented his recommendations at a Sag Harbor Board of Education meeting on Monday. The board and public appeared receptive to his ideas, although Granger later noted that school plants are often a sensitive subject.

“I am coming from a situation were it took several years to get a school into [SAVE] compliance,” noted Granger. “I want to be cautious to the feelings of the community. We have tremendously beautiful grounds, but we have to maintain them.”

Granger plans to formulate a priority list for these landscaping projects.

Tree Debate Rages On

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Despite an arborist’s statement that a historic black oak on Jermain Avenue in Sag Harbor is a hazard and should be considered for removal, some Sag Harbor residents maintain that not enough research has been done to consider the tree a lost cause.

Last week, Sag Harbor Mayor Greg Ferraris confirmed the village was looking at removing the tree that juts into the roadway after two car accidents in six months involving the oak led to the conclusion the tree was a safety issue and insurance liability. Compounding village concerns was a letter received last week from Southampton arborist Ray Smith of Ray Smith and Associates.

 “It is my opinion this tree is hazardous and should be considered for removal,” wrote Smith in the letter dated September 17. “There are significant areas of visible decay for an approximately seven to eight foot length in the main trunk which leads me to conclude there is possibly more decay in the trunk. There is also a visible stress fracture that runs vertically up the length of the tree for approximately five feet. The tree has retained enough conductive tissue to support a healthy, heavy canopy which further predisposes it to failure.

But according to Sag Harbor Tree Fund member Mac Griswold coring samples need to be done to show whether it truly is a hazard. 

“It is not at all clear yet,” said Griswold. “Having done some research with [Delaware tree expert] Russ Carlson, who was suggested to me by the New York Botanical Garden, a tree such as this is not necessarily a hazard unless coring samples have been done; and they have not been done.”

Sag Harbor resident and Ph.D botanist Stuart Lowrie with The Nature Conservancy agreed that core samples are needed before a tree can be declared a hazard.

Griswold said the tree fund, which is funded by a line item in the village budget, would look for a second opinion and someone to perform the coring.

“I have to say it is kind of ironic that Mac Griswold of the tree fund referred us to Ray Smith and now that she did not like his answer, is asking for a second opinion,” said Ferraris.

The issue of traffic calming on Jermain Avenue also arose amongst those voicing concern over the tree’s removal this week, with some questioning whether that is the prevailing issue regarding accidents on Jermain Avenue.

Last year, the village was steps away from applying for funding through Safe Routes To Schools that would have enabled traffic calming improvements throughout the Sag Harbor School District, including on Jermain Avenue. The village pulled back after losing the Town of Southampton as a sponsoring agent and learned of the upfront costs involved.

“A lot of work was done on that last year and we do have recommendations from a professional consultant,” said Ferraris. “The village would certainly be interested in moving forward with Safe Routes to School, however, the village does not have half-a-million dollars to put up as collateral for a project not ultimately guaranteed funding, especially when many of these improvements were going to be made outside the village.”

Sag Harbor’s Ken Dorph, who spearheaded the Safe Routes to School effort, lamented this week that Sag Harbor was considered far ahead of the competition vying for funding through the program. He maintains if the town, village or school district had moved forward with the application, funding would be available for improvements on Jermain.

Griswold believes that based on a discussion she had with a landscape architect, a bump out is possible to save the oak and ensure safety on Jermain Avenue.

On Wednesday, Ferraris said while the village was waiting to hear back from its insurance company and the village attorney before making a decision on the oak, he would look at it specifically from a liability standpoint.