Forest Living

Reprint from the September 2015 Villager
By Scott Doellinger, Code Enforcement Officer

Autumn is on the way, and with cooler temperatures and diminishing daylight, deciduous trees shed their solar collection panels ... uh, leaves. This results in leaf-covered lawns with the leaves smothering and seemingly damaging the grass (it will recover). Minerva Park’s ordinances require removal of leaves from lawns [11273.10 (h)] and street gutters [660.05 (a)].

Residents can effectively remove the leaves by several methods. The extensive article in the October 2013 Villager, by resident and Green Team member Karen Cogley, offers a variety of options. Here are a few.

  1. I use a mulching lawn mower on all but the heaviest concentration of leaves.
  2. Rake the leaves and compost them on-site or bag them for pick-up by Local Waste Company or take the leaves out of the Village to a nursery that composts them.
  3. Rake leaves TO the street (not IN the street) for the Village contractor to vacuum them up. Details will be in the October newsletter. Why is it important to NOT rake leaves into the street? Because the Village storm sewer system will be strained (possibly costing the Village quite a bit of money for remediation) and because they clog the sewer intakes, often causing flooding. Please be MP neighborly and help keep the sewer intake in front of your property cleared of debris to help prevent flooding.

A more threatening condition exists with the demise of the ash trees. Most in the Village are now dead because of the emerald ash borer, and aging trunks, branches, and root structures are becoming more unstable.

A Village ordinance requires maintenance of trees growing on private property and on adjacent street rights-of-way [660.14 (a)]. Dead or compromised trees near streets are of particular concern if they fall across the roadway and block emergency vehicles.

Haven’t properly maintained your trees? A falling tree can cause considerable damage, injury, or loss of life. Your insurance company can refuse a claim and deny liability. This could leave you with a great deal of financial exposure, something that easily can be avoided. So please tend to your damaged or dead trees.

What’s the value of trees to your property? We found a website, (coauthored by Davey Tree Company in Kent OH), that calculates the value of a 41” sugar maple at $446 annually, in reduced utilities and increased air quality, etc. It would intercept 7,083 gallons of stormwater runoff annually. It would increase your property value by $113 this year alone, and would add 550 sq.ft. of leaf surface area. It would conserve 429 kilowatt hours of electricity. It would absorb and help avoid pollutants, like ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, dust, ash, and smoke and help lower air temperatures. It would reduce atmospheric carbon by 1,906 pounds.

So as you face another autumn of raking fallen leaves, please look skyward and say a quiet “thank you” to our canopy of trees, and let’s do what we can to keep them healthy for many years to come. They’re worth it. •