Tag Archives: Trees

Nearly Finished

Our backyard cleanup of the downed trees and limbs from the August 10th derecho is almost finished. Three pickup truckloads of cut tree trunks and branches were hauled away a week ago. We had some days with little wind which allowed small branches and debris to be burned. We will see what grows in the spring and then decide what to plant in the empty space. Nature was quick to destroy some trees but will take her time to show her future plans. We will be patient.

Here are photos for comparison of before and after cleanup. Taken from the same spot.

August 11, 2020

November 13, 2020


Tree Trimming

This is not a story about trimming trees for the holidays. We have trees 50-60 ft tall behind the house. Their branches were extending out over the roof dropping debris and small twigs during the year. It was time to cut them back. There was no way I could reach them. The tree service had the equipment and personnel to do it safely. A few years ago they removed two large dead Elms. The video below of this recent work takes about 2 minutes.

Campus Trees | U of Iowa Map

I like to share good examples of blending technology with a specific set of data. The University of Iowa has over 8000 trees of 281 species on 3 campus locations. Care of those trees is under the auspices of the Facilities Management office. They have kept a database of the trees since 1989. How can that information be shared with others?

A web app was announced 29 April 2016 on Arbor Day to make the details of each tree available to students, faculty, researchers, and the general public. Follow this link to the app. This image is an example of a small part of the campus trees map.



From the web site about the web app:

The UI Tree Inventory app delivers information about the number and location of trees and their condition, size, and species, with additional links to photos and descriptions. Users can also see if the tree was dedicated or planted as a memorial and view other designations, like state-champion status. Use the “find my location” feature on your mobile device to view information about the trees around you.

Users can drag the map, zoom in or out, and click on any of the tree symbols to bring up a window with details about that tree. What a great way to share the knowledge with everyone.


Leaves of Trees | Underside Views

I walked the path with the Sun to my back. It was about 9 am. The small trees nearby had turned their leaves toward the light. Upon my return, I noticed how much detail was evident in the structure of each leaf as the sunlight shined through it. I brought the camera up close to each in macro-mode. There were different shades of green, symmetry, vein structure, etc. Each image can be enlarged for detail.


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Dead Trees | Stump Removal

In October 2014, we had two large dead elm trees removed. A large crane was needed since there was little room between our house and the neighbor. Here is the post about that impressive removal job.

In March 2015, the tree stumps were ground out to complete the job. Here are a few pictures and video.

Stumps right after the trees were removed in October 2014.

This overall view of the grinding machine shows the operator at the side, steerable rear wheels, and the articulated front end. At the front is a spinning disc with teeth that cut into the stump. It is moved left and right and is lowered to several inches below ground level. The heavy machine is sitting on a 1″ thick piece of plywood to prevent damage to the lawn. It took about 30 minutes to finish grinding the stump. Grinding bits were scattered along the trail in the woods behind the house.


Overall view of the grinder.

Closeup of the grinder disc in action.

Closeup of the spinning grinder disc in action.

This 30 second video shows how the operator moved the grinder to remove the layers of wood.

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Eastern Iowa River Hikes | Palisades Kepler State Park

by Melanie and Jim

Last month we enjoyed a number of outings in our own backyard. On the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, we headed north a few miles to Palisades-Kepler State Park, on the Cedar River. It’s becoming a favorite retreat for us, both for its proximity and also the hiking. (You can find some photos from a hike last fall here.)

The trail system isn’t extensive. The main trail is out and back, following the tree-lined east bluff of the Cedar River. The fossil-embedded rocks tower over the hiker at some points. At others, the hiker ascends the bluff to walk along the upper surface. There are plenty of roots and rocks, ups and downs, and terrific scenery to keep things interesting.

It’s easy to get caught up in the bigger scale. But interesting things appear when you pay attention to the small, too. The grey limestone cliffs host plants growing in unexpected places. Ferns of all sizes, mosses, and wildflowers thrust from the stone. Columbines seemed to thrive on the rock face.

Jack-in-the-pulpits and shooting stars rose up, scattered throughout the park.

As we headed out, we saw this slope covered with wild geraniums.

We left the park and headed toward home. About halfway is the town of Solon. Lucky for us, the volunteer firefighters were holding their 51st annual breakfast to raise funds for the fire station. Abundant plates full of pancakes, eggs, and sausage or ham, as well as hot coffee, helped refill us after our hike. The breakfast was serendipity this year, as we hadn’t known it was being held that day. But it’s already on our calendar for next year!

Hike Along the Cedar River

by Jim and Melanie

As with most people, a lot of things are pulling us several directions. We said ‘No’ to the outside forces recently and made our escape to Kepler-Palisades State Park.

DSCN0640Kepler-Palisades is one of the Iowa state parks near us. It is east of Cedar Rapids, just off of U.S. 30, Lincoln Highway. The Cedar River cuts through some coral beds as it makes its way southeast toward a union with the Iowa River, before joining the Mississippi.

We entered the park off Hwy. 30 on Kepler Drive. At the ‘T’ near the river, we turned right. Left of the red marker at the river, you can see some shadows cast onto the water. The shadows are from a high cliff face, or palisades, and the trail follows it for quite a distance.

From the main trail head, the trail begins flat and fairly smooth. Quickly the hiker has to decide whether to take a “high road” or a “low road.” They both end up at the same place, a compass pavilion near the high point of the park. Rocks and roots make watching your feet important. Past the pavilion, the trail becomes a lot more interesting and a little more difficult with more elevation changes and trickier footing.

Even so, on the trail there is little danger other than a sprained ankle or scuffed knee. Off trail, it is dangerous with loose rocks, particularly on the river side. Some adventurous people get permission at the park office to do some climbing and rappelling. Over the years, multiple people have fallen to their death after wandering off the trail. We noticed more railing and signs had been added pointing out the dangers.

At the bottom of the overview picture is a run-down dam. The very low water levels from the dry season we’ve had make it possible to walk around the area now. Below you can see the stairway to the dam. The passage at the bottom is barely wide enough to fit an adult.

Come for more walk in the park.