Trimming trees in Seaside

A tree walk will be held April 28 as part of Seaside’s eighth annual Earth Day Celebration. Associate Planner for the city of Seaside Beth Rocha will meet the public at Seaside Creates, located at 656 Broadway Avenue at 5 p.m. Rocha, an International Society of Arboriculture certified arborist, will present the structural pruning recently performed on juvenile street trees.

As part of Seaside’s downtown revitalization, 98 street trees were planted over the past two years along the west end of Broadway Avenue. New Zealand Christmas trees line the street, while ficus trees are on the corners. The trees have flourished after planting, besides three lost to a drunk driving accident and one death from irrigation failure. All losses were replaced.

Many urban trees fail or live shortened lives. While populations and cities grow, the U.S. Forest Service calculates urban tree quantity is steadily declining. California loses more than seven thousand acres of urban canopy cover per year. Some species of trees live only 50 years in cities, while the same species’ life expectancy in a non-urban setting is as much as 150 years. It has been estimated an average of one quarter of the trees in a large city planting fail within the first few years.

Rocha asked structural pruning be performed by certified arborist Peter Quintanilla with assistance from his Monterey Peninsula College students. A sought-after arborist with decades of experience, Quintanilla enjoys advising clients and informing the public about tree care. He will work with the trees’ natural beauty, while mitigating structural defects before they become hazards. They may look uneven this year, but structural pruning is like required surgery. Quintanilla added these younger street trees can withstand more foliage removal than older trees.

East of Alhambra, participating arborists will mark branches for structural pruning with tape and city contractors will perform the rest of the labor. Arborists consider juvenile pruning a great opportunity. Unpruned trees can grow crowded, twisted and overlapping, and branches fail naturally. Regular light pruning can train trees into directions or shapes desired. They should not be limbed up too quick and never topped.

Many businesses do not like their street views blocked by trees. Dylan Rivera of Monterey Signs feels trees enhance the pathways of the community. Additionally, he would like to be involved more during architectural planning stages. For example, there is a lamppost in front of 855 Broadway Avenue which can be considered unfortunate. A lifelong resident of the peninsula, Rivera believes if a tree in the city is removed or lost, a replacement tree should be planted.

Both tree species grow two feet per year, but are currently at the window level. They can grow as high as 50 feet, but may only max out at 25 feet high. Local businesses and Seaside residents were able to vote on the tree species chosen.

New Zealand Christmas trees typically bloom May through July, but flowers have been observed throughout the year on Broadway Avenue. The petals are insignificant compared to the many long, scarlet anthers with golden tips. The canopy of elliptic, firm, leathery leaves is dense and round. An evergreen, it keeps most of its leaves year-round. The Maori called this tree “Pohutukawa,” which means “drenched with spray.” They are dependable on the coastline, putting up with salt air and high winds. They also grow aerial roots in foggy settings. Roots actually growing out of the branches can be found today on some of the plantings of Broadway Avenue.

Ficus microcarpa is the most commonly planted ficus tree in California. It’s also an evergreen with a round, dense crown. The leaves have a shiny, thick cuticle, and the trunk and branches are smooth and gray. Ficus are very vigorous, yet even well-chosen branches may become weak and should have their load lightened occasionally.

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