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Saving an Iconic Seqouia Tree in Downtown Seattle

Posted by Leonard on July, 26, 2010

I got a call late one afternoon recently from my client Cedar Grove Composting to ask me to come film some footage of a special project they were working on. Together with the Seattle Department of Transportation and Seattle Public Utilities, Cedar Grove Composting was involved in trying to save a very special tree. The giant Sequoia tree is in the heart of downtown Seattle at the corner of 4th and Stewart, that was originally planted on Aurora Avenue, but was relocated in 1972. The tree is also the official Christmas Tree downtown every year. Over the years, the tree continued to grow but recently, birds had infested it and their droppings were both damaging the soil below as well as the canopy was slowly becoming covering with their acidic poop. Not sure about how to save the tree, SDOT approached international tree specialist James Urban, author of the book Up By Roots who had been in Seattle recently and paid the tree a house call, diagnosing the problem and prescribing the solution that this group eventually implemented.

So using an air spade to blow out vertical holes and a giant sucker truck to take the dirt away, a number of 4 ft deep vertical columns were dug around the base of the tree, and filled with fresh compost donated by Cedar Grove. Better irrigation and gas flow to the roots was the goal to supplement the pruning they’d already done.

Here is the video I produced about the work.

From Aurora Ave N. to Downtown

From Aurora Ave N. to Downtown

Sequoia on Aurora before being transplanted, 1972

Sequoia on Aurora before being transplanted, 1972

Placing the tree downtown at 4th and Stewart, Seattle

Placing the tree downtown at 4th and Stewart, Seattle




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