The City of The Colony boasts one of the highest ratios of per-capita park acreage in the state of Texas.
Much of that green space includes Corps of Engineers property along Lewisville Lake, but there’s a sizable amount of parkland and trails that must be maintained by the city’s Parks Crews.
All those trails and parkland means there’s lots of trees in The Colony. Not to mention more and more new trees are planted each year as part of the city’s annual Tree City USA re-certification.
Playground Inspector and Trails Specialist Marlisa Jemison has been with the city almost five years. She is one of many Parks & Recreation staffers charged with maintaining the city’s green spaces. “We do a lot of tree-work on the Parks Crew. You can see how many trees we have,” she said while standing amid the forest of Bill Allen Memorial Park, one of the more densely wooded areas in the community.
Jemison, whose educational background is in biology and natural sciences, took it upon herself earlier this year to earn certification as an arborist so she could do an even better job, particularly along the trails where pushing back the overgrowth is important.
“We can’t constantly monitor every tree, of course, but I wanted to make sure I’m doing what I can to keep the trees I encounter in the best shape possible,” she said.
Arborists, for example, learn about the Compartmentalization of Decay in Trees (CODIT), which explains how wounded trees protect themselves by forming walls around the wound to slow the spread of disease or decay. Jemison applies this knowledge when trimming back the foliage along the trails.
“Trees are living creatures, and it makes a big difference in the health of the tree depending on where and how you cut a branch,” Jemison said. “You don’t want to cut it too far out and you don’t want to cut it flush to the trunk. You want to cut it so it grows properly.”
Jemison said trimming trees the right way at the right time (especially new ones) prevents development of weakened structures and things like “co-dominant leaders,” where a tree seemingly has two trunks (pictured at left).
Beyond trimming, proper tree maintenance also includes things like planting them at the right depth and not staking them too tight.
Other, bigger cities around the state often have one or more devoted staff members maintaining the city’s urban forestry. For her part, Jemison is simply trying to fill in the gap in her community.
“This certification doesn’t mean I know everything there is to know about trees but every bit helps and I love to learn new things,” she said. “I also love hiking trails, so it feels good knowing I’m contributing to the experience of other people getting out on our trails.
“We have lots of beautiful trees we want to keep healthy. Learning how to do that better simply provides a better trail experience for our residents.”