Campus trees trimmed for maintenance

Gracie Awalt

Thousands of students have relaxed underneath the ancient branches of the live oak trees on Main Mall or walked amongst the fallen leaves on sidewalks around campus. The UT Landscape Services Team is responsible for protecting, beautifying and trimming the trees on campus in an effort to maintain UT’s urban forest landscape.

The UT campus is a member of Tree Campus USA, which is a designation awarded by the Arbor Day Foundation to campuses that maintain trees by following certain guidelines. To keep this status, landscape services manager Jim Carse said the Landscape Services Team has to hold a Texas Arbor Day event, dedicate a budget to tree care, have a specific tree maintenance plan, hold service learning events and have a Tree Campus USA committee. 

“The landscape is the front door to the University,” Carse said. “When you come to a campus, we know that the people are looking, playing, sitting and eating in the landscape. It’s the first thing you see.”

When the team maintains trees, Carse said they prioritize safety. If a tree is located in a highly-populated area and the limbs could potentially fall or the trunk is unhealthy, the landscaping crew will cut and remove trees and limbs when necessary. 

Jim Carse said two of the largest trees on campus are located near the Steve Hicks School of Social Work and next to the Barbara Jordan statue. The cedar tree located in front of the Littlefield House is the second largest Deodar cedar tree in the state of Texas and was brought from Pakistan by George Littlefield, Confederate Army officer and UT donor.

“The oldest tree is probably a couple hundred years old, maybe approaching three hundred,” Carse said. 

In honor of Texas Arbor Day on Friday, Nov. 2, UT Landscape Services held a tree planting and tree giveaway at the UT Orchard, which is located at the intersection of San Jacinto and East 24th streets. 

“We lose trees due to old age and weather events like Hurricane Harvey, so spaces open up,” said Jennifer Hrobar, supervisor of urban forestry for the Landscape Services Team. “Trees don’t live forever, so you want to have all generations and all ages of trees in a healthy ecosystem.”

The UT Orchard contains trees that bear fruit, such as fig, persimmon and lemon trees. During the event, UT Landscape Services gave away 150 plants to students for free and added olive and pecan trees to the orchard. 

“We’re in an area of education, so we’re promoting good care from birth to death, cradle to grave how to properly manage, maintain and promote trees,” Hrobar said. “Students are able to harvest fruits if they want to. It’s sort of a free for all, but we just ask that students don’t take every fruit off the trees and leave some for others.” 

Business freshman Valeria Garcia said she loves to study around the trees on campus, because it reminds her of the nature from back home, near San Antonio. 

“If we didn’t have these trees around campus it definitely would change my mood,” Garcia said. “Without the trees, I wouldn’t feel as connected to things. Being at a large university, feeling connected to something is so important.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article said the cedar tree located in front of the Littlefield House is the second largest cedar tree in Texas, when in fact it is the second largest Deodar cedar tree in Texas. The Texan regrets this error.