As leaves have begun to turn colors and fall, Haddonfield has taken the first steps in providing ample shade for the future. After a one-season absence due to COVID-related concerns, fall planting was to begin during the week of Oct. 25.
According to a social-media post from Commissioner Frank Troy, 80 trees arrived at the Haddonfield Public Works building the week prior. Confirming that account — and revealing that one more of them might have made the list as a replacement for a commemorative tree that had to be cut down — was Shade Tree Commission Chair Robin Potter.
The commission wanted certain characteristics of each kind of tree to fill the need for the planting, including a root structure able to fit easily within parking strips, a height that won’t endanger existing utility lines and a large enough canopy at maximum growth to create sufficient shade.
During a conversation on Oct. 25, Potter also revealed that three types of trees were chosen for their relatively short growth heights. The height range of upright cherry trees ranges from 15 to 25 feet, shadblow trees average 25 feet and American hornbeams can grow as high as 30 feet but average 20 feet in shadier areas.
Shadblows, also known as serviceberry trees, are known to the borough and the few already planted have done well, according to Potter.
“It blooms in April, and has berries that birds eat before they hit the ground,” she explained. “These berries are also edible to humans, and can make a blueberry like pie. Its leaves are small, so no big deal clearing them and no big wet mess when it rains.”
Three main areas were earmarked for planting, Potter added: streets surrounding the Little League Fields and the Farwood and Gill Tract sections of the borough.
The former neighborhood’s trees showed significant decay due to the hazards of road repairs and residential construction. In addition, Potter said, park strips are narrower on streets like Springfield Terrace and Wellington Avenue than in other areas, and so no trees with large root balls would work..
“It’s going to be a multiyear project in this area,” Potter continued. “We were looking at Springfield and Wellington and a bit of Belmont in 2021. Then more of Belmont and other trees that need filling next year on other streets in 2022.”
Within Farwood and Gill, trees have fallen victim to age, disease, and construction. The Shade Tree Commission is targeting Cedar Avenue in Farwood and Washington Avenue at Gill to fill in areas where there is noticeable open space between trees.
“Trees here need to break up a lot of rainfalls, especially now when, due to climate change, we get heavier and harder rains,” said Potter. “When leaves are not on trees, heavy branches will break up large raindrops into smaller drops, and lessens force and speed with which water moves and can be absorbed into soil.”
In the last piece to the planting puzzle, 30 trees have been designated for inclusion due to residents’ requests for replacements.
“What we want to do now is to focus on blocks or areas of town to fill in because of disease, leaf scorch with oaks and emerald ash bore disease with all the ash trees. That’s our first priority,” Potter stated.
“We have a fairly ambitious roads program, and so we have to lag the program by about a year or so to stay ahead of the construction.”
Borough codes were altered in 2014 to suit that purpose, with a clause added that says when trees are removed due to construction, the developer must reimburse the borough for removal, with the money placed in an escrow fund accessed by the commission.
In 2022, the commission plans on both a spring and fall planting, with cash from the escrow used to finance the fall undertaking.