Friday, November 15, 2013

Tree Planting and Restoration

We have recently begun a phase of tree restoration / planting project here at Granite Bay. This restoration was motivated by the  Granite Bay Golf Committee several years ago in response to the natural decline and death of the courses native oak trees over the years. Our trees are an important design feature and aesthetic component of the course and have some history over the past 20 years.

The overall design concept of Granite Bay falls into the general classification of a  parkland  golf course which is an inland course that accommodates the natural trees and hills in the surrounding environment. The vast majority of native oaks in Granite Bay are Blue Oaks (quercus douglasii) and Interior Live Oak (quercus wislizeni). Additionally growing along Linda creek and planted during early construction are some California and Sacramento native Valley Oak (quercus lobata) and Coastal Live Oak (quercus agrifolia) which were planted as screening trees, a good example of which would be behind #15 green and #9 tee.

Specimen replacement trees being delivered to GBGC

Native Live Oaks awaiting planting as screening trees
along #4 and #6 fence lines.

Several years after construction (2001 - 2002) a group non California native oaks were introduced on the course mostly on holes #8 & #5 but also a few behind #10 and near #15 green. These varieties were Red Oak (quercus rubra) and Pin Oak (quercus palustris). The decision to plant these non California native species of oaks was unfortunate in my opinion as I think the design intent and features of Granite Bay lend more to the native species. The thought process behind planting the non-native species were that these Red & Pin Oaks could take the summer watering of trees growing in turf which does need to be considered as some California native oaks are not as tolerant.

Non-native Red Oaks planted between #8 & #9

With all of this in mind, the Golf Committee and GB Management began to develop a  tree replacement plan to address  areas on the course that we have both lost native oaks and are in jeopardy of losing more. More then just replacing lost trees we wanted to be proactive in starting replacements for trees that are suspect to future decline and death along with phasing out of the non California native species over time. These thoughts were discussed a few years back when we did a course tour with Kyle Phillips. Many issues were discussed at this meeting and tree planting was one of them. Kyle's overall assessment regarding tree planting was sticking to original design intent which was not necessarily a tree lined parkland course, but one in which trees are part of  a golf holes defense along with room for bailouts and  interesting golf shots lending to clusters of trees. Kyle also mentioned the introduction of non native species as something that was never part of the original design intent.

Interior Live Oak - left hand side of #4. A native tree that is a
design feature of the hole. Currently the tree is showing little sign
of future struggles, however if it were it would be a good idea
to get a replacement going.

Blue Oaks are the dominant native  varieties of oak trees in the Granite Bay area, but some  unfortunately don't seem to be able to take the summer watering that turfgrass requires. I fear that over the years we would have lost more Blue Oaks if early on Placer County had not required the club to pull irrigation away from many of these oak stands on the course, which are now in our walnut shell areas. After consulting with tree professionals we decided that Valley Oaks would be the best native substitute for the Blue Oaks because they can tolerate a turfgrass condition much better. Valley Oaks are similar in size and will blend well with the Blue Oaks in a California native oak woodland and are native to the Sacramento area. Additionally several Valley Oaks have been planted on the course and are doing well.

Struggling transplanted Blue Oak (20 years ago) next
to its Valley Oak replacement.  In the foreground is a
non-native Red Oak planted 12 or so years ago.
We planted a large Valley Oak this week 11/12/13, in front of the dying Blue Oak on the right  of #4 to protect the right side of the hole from the big hitters. Throughout the remainder of the week we placed trees in potential approximate locations on the course keeping in mind we are replacing lost trees along with planting potential replacements for struggling native Blue Oaks and non-native Red Oaks. Additionally there were some Blue Oaks that were required to be transplanted during construction that have have not taken or grown a bit in 20 years and are really struggling  that we we plan to replace.

Planting a 60" Valley Oak as a future protector of
the left hand side of #4

Valley Oak planted in front of the dying Blue Oak on #4

Varying opinions are always part of any new project we embark on here at Granite Bay and tree restoration / planting will be no different. We do want to remain true to original design intent and intend to maintain the the courses integrity as objectively as possible.