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Santa Monica City Hall Trees Get Pruning

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

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Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Lookout Staff

February 4, 2016 -- The 31 Sycamore trees in Ken Genser Square in front of Santa Monica City Hall will be pruned this week to stunt their growth, City officials announced.

The Landscape Division of the Public Works Department will "pollard" the young trees to avoid blocking the view of City Hall, one of Santa Monica's iconic landmarks, Mathew Wells, Santa Monica's Urban Forester, wrote in a memo to the Council last month.

"Since they were planted (in 2013), these California sycamores in front of City Hall have been pollarded annually to avoid obstructing the iew of this landmarked building and to keep the pruning cuts on the bollard heads to a small size."

Pollard heads are the bulbous areas at the ends of the branches, Wells explained, adding that pollarding "helps to avoid excessive decay entering the heads and allows for good wound occlusion."

The pruning, which is carefully done with hand tools, takes place in the winter, when the trees are dormant, Wells said.

Califonia Sycamores can grow between 40 and 100 feet in height, and their branches reach a spread of 40 to 70 feet when mature, according to the Arbor Day Foundation.

Pollarding keeps trees smaller than they would naturally grow and is started when the tree reaches the desired height, according to the Royal Horicultural Society.

"Initially, the new branches are held weakly in place as they grow rapidly from underneath the bark, rather than from within the tree," according to the Society.

"As the wood lays down annual growth rings, the union strengthens, often forming a thickened base where the shoot meets the trunk. Over a number of years, a swollen 'pollard head' forms where new shoots grow each year. "

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