Jeff Ward, director of Tree Utah (TreeUtah.org), talks about how bringing goats into Tree Utah’s Ecogarden (1575 W. 1000 North, next to the Day-Riverside library) worked out.
Why goats in the garden?
We have a bad weed problem, and since it’s an organic garden, we can’t just spray it. Someone suggested goats. We had them 12 hours a day for two days, and it looked like a lawnmower had been over it. We could have used two more days because once the goats run out of stuff to eat they will pull out the roots. We’re hoping to bring them back next spring when the weeds are just starting to come in.
What does Tree Utah do?
Our ultimate goal is to educate residents on social and environmental benefits of a healthy urban forest. We work with community groups to do urban community planting.
What are the most common mistakes people make planting trees?
Trees aren’t carrots: you don’t want to loosen the soil beneath the tree, you want to loosen the sides because tree roots grow sideways. You don’t want to fertilize the first two years or you’ll force the foliage too early. The energy will go to the leaves instead of the roots. Also, young trees need about a five-gallon bucket of water twice a week in the summer. Here, if a tree dies, it’s very often from lack of water.
What’s the biggest threat to Utah’s environment?
Unwise growth and planning. People are building too fast.
How is local government doing as ecological stewards?
Salt Lake City and County are very good about ecological issues and have been for a while. Salt Lake has the potential to be a showcase green community. We have the people, the infrastructure and the room to grow. Other areas of Utah are farther behind, especially eastern Utah.