Soil Health: Identifying & Managing Soil Constraints...Urban Landscape

Medford, MA

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Soils are a vast and complex entity and always something of a mystery. We truly know very little about the dark realm of the underworld beneath our feet and even less about soil when it comes to managing it with regard to the health of our landscapes.


In the urban environment, soils have become the product of society rather than that of nature and are the cause and consequence of our past landscape cultural practices.


To get a better handle on managing soil holistically we need fresh insight and a new diagnostic approach beyond the traditional extension soil test. In this ‘Lunch & Learn’ presentation, Chuck will introduce the concept of soil health/quality and the implementation of soil health/quality indicators to comprehensively assess the biological, chemical and physical attributes of the soil as they pertain to the constraints of a site.


Future use of these soil health/quality indicators will provide the landscape architect, garden designer; arborist and landscape professional with the necessary data required to select the appropriate products, tools, equipment and techniques needed to amend the soil site constraints and will also prove useful toward the establishing an annual maintenance plan for the newly installed landscape.


Chuck will also discuss one of his recent case studies done for the ‘Friends of the Public Garden’ using the Cornell Soil Health Assessment in addition to introducing some of the other new soil diagnostic approaches that our now emerging and being trialed in the green industry including: The Sustainable Sites Initiative and the Urban Site Index.


 Chuck Sherzi, Jr. has over 30 years of experience managing plant health. He is a senior staff Arborist and Agronomist at Tree Specialists, Inc. and is responsible for developing and implementing site solutions for client properties that will provide a sustainable approach to the landscape’s vitality and appearance. Utilizing a selection of sampling tools and a range of diagnostic indicators, Mr. Sherzi assesses the soil, monitors insect and disease activity and evaluates the many cultural practices—planting, mulching, pruning, and irrigation—that impacts landscapes. Prior to joining Tree Specialists in 2008, Mr. Sherzi held positions at Boston Tree Preservation as the Director of Plant Health Care and Pumpkin Brook Organic Gardening as a Project Manager. Both positions provided him with the opportunity to clearly see the many benefits of using sustainable methods and organic products in the planted landscape. 


Mr. Sherzi holds a B.S in Plant and Soil Science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and an A.S. in Horticulture from Massachusetts Bay Community College, Wellesley. In addition, he is an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified arborist, Massachusetts Certified Arborist, Massachusetts Certified Horticulturist and a licensed Massachusetts Pesticide Applicator. Chuck is also accredited by the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA). Lastly, Mr. Sherzi served as an instructor of professional practice at the Landscape Institute, Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University (2005-09), developing and teaching the soils curriculum, as well as a series of landscape cultural practices workshops. In his spare time, Mr. Sherzi enjoys mushroom forays with the Boston Mycological Club, volunteering with the Boston Area Gleaners harvesting fresh, surplus farm produce for local food pantries and shelters, knocking around old bookstores collecting literature, poetry, music, and art tomes with agrarian themes and editing his collection of soil experiences for his soon to be published ‘Soil & Ink’ blog.