News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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September 13, 2012

Covering the Bases: ISU students, employees spread mulch to help trees along Memorial Mile trail

TERRE HAUTE — Despite recent rains, mulch spread around young trees along the Indiana Veterans Memorial Mile trail around Indiana State University’s Memorial Stadium will protect them during drier fall weather.

About 14 ISU employees and five student workers put down the mulch Wednesday as part of a partnership between ISU, TREES Inc. and the city of Terre Haute.

“This is a project we did last year and wanted to continue this year as the university allows community service hours for our staff,” said Stephanie Krull, ISU landscape and grounds manager.

On the south side of the stadium, steam rose from a large pile of mulch in the cool morning air Wednesday. A small loader piled the mulch into the beds of pickup trucks and small landscape vehicles for spreading.

The steam is a result of a buildup of internal heat in fresh mulch as it decomposes, something that dissipates when spread, Krull said.

The project required 35 to 40 yards of fresh mulch, put down at 3 to 4 inches thick, to cover the trees at the site.

“Mulching in the fall is important for water retention, as the fall is usually drier,” Krull said. While Terre Haute was drenched with water last week, this year was marked by a severe drought, which greatly reduced water for trees.

Mulch helps maintain soil moisture and reduce weeds near the tree that compete for water, Krull said. “It is more important than ever this year,” she added.

The trees around Memorial Stadium are in full sun, and some species have not survived around the trail, said Greg Phegley, TREES secretary.

“We are missing a couple of species of trees. They were here when the 101 trees of Indiana were first planted, but have since died. Some are tough to grow and don’t do well in direct sun,” Phegley said. “We are working to get those replaced.”

Mulched rings around trees also keep mowing equipment away from the base of the trees, Phegley said.

He said the partnership includes ISU providing the labor, the city donating the mulch, and TREES Inc., through landscaper Hank Metzger, pruning trees and readying them for mulching.

“It is a lot of work and without this partnership, it would be tough,” Phegley said.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or howard.greninger@

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