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Course Architect Edward F. Shearon III shares his insights ahead of the inaugural Symetra Tour Valley Forge Invitational with “Golf Talk Live” on WNET Philadelphia.

2018 Symetra Tour Highlights, courtesy of Valley Forge Board of Tourism

Raven’s Claw Golf Club made history this past Spring as it hosted the Inaugural Valley Forge Invitational for the LPGA Symetra Tour.

Click the image below to watch the recap Valley Forge Invitational at Raven’s Claw Golf Club

Raven’s Claw Course Architect Edward Shearon, III featured guest

Many unique challenges are brought to bear on course design when dealing with mountainous terrain. Using examples from his award-winning portfolio, Ed outlines challenges of land composition, course playability and design variation along with the ways he and Shearon Golf overcame them.

Click the image below to watch this episode of Tony Leodora’s The Traveling Golfer

Raven’s Claw Shows Well on Day 1 of Valley Forge Invitational

Opened in 2005, Raven’s Claw is consistently ranked among the state’s top-10 public courses by Golfweek Magazine. Despite weather issues this spring, the 6,421 yard, par-71 layout was ready to host a tour billed as the “Road to the LPGA.”

Click the image below to read the full article in The Mercury

Course Architect Ed Shearon and Raven’s Claw Golf Club owner Bob Davis congratulate Valley Forge Invitational 2018 Winner, Louise Ridderstrom.


Mulching Landscape Trees

Written by David R. Jackson, Penn State Extension


Mulches are materials placed over the soil surface to enhance landscape beauty, improve soil conditions, protect plants from foot traffic and lawn equipment, and suppress weeds. Mulches can also improve soil structure and fertility. This is important in urban landscapes where soils are often compacted and lack organic matter, especially on new construction sites.

Mulching mimics the natural environment found in forests where leaves and branches blanket the soil surface, replenishing nutrients as they decompose and creating an ideal environment for root growth. Urban landscape trees and shrubs typically grow in much harsher environments with soils modified by human activities (e.g., construction, lawns, and compaction). A 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch can re-create aspects of a forest’s soil environment. According to the International Society of Arboriculture, mulching, when done correctly, is one of the most beneficial practices a homeowner can do for the health of a tree or shrub.

Mulches are available in two major forms, organic and inorganic. Tree care professionals prefer organic mulches, such as wood chips, pine needles, hardwood and softwood bark, cocoa hulls, leaves, and compost mixes, since they decompose, improving soil structure and increasing soil fertility. The various organic mulches decompose at different rates and require periodic reapplication. Inorganic mulches, such as gravel, stone chips, river rock, and rubber, do not provide the same benefits as organic mulches as they do not decompose.

The benefits of proper mulching include the following:

• Conserves soil moisture by increasing water infiltration and slowing evaporation

• Improves soil structure, fertility, and aeration as it decomposes

• Moderates soil temperature, protecting roots from extreme summer and winter temperatures

• Eliminates potential tree damage from mowers and trimmers

•Prevents soil compaction by reducing foot and vehicle traffic, allowing roots to “breathe”

• Impedes growth of weeds and grass that compete with tree roots for water and nutrients

Inorganic mulches, such as this stone, do not provide the same benefits as organic mulches like bark and wood chips

The benefits of mulching are well documented.

However, excessive or improperly applied mulch can adversely affect plants. The International Society of Ar- boriculture advises to apply mulch properly; if it is too deep, piled against the trunk of the tree, or the wrong material, it can cause significant harm to trees.


• Organic mulches are preferable due to their soil-enhancing qualities. Hardwood bark makes very good, inexpensive mulch, especially when it contains a blend of bark, wood, and leaves.

• Mulch can be applied to landscape trees at just about any time of the year. However, the best time to apply mulch is in the middle of spring, once soil temperatures have warmed enough for root growth to begin.

• Mulch as much of the area as possible, preferably to the outermost edge of the tree’s canopy, referred to as the “drip line.” Keep in mind, the drip line moves out as the tree grows.

• Apply a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch and no more; use less if the soil is poorly drained. More than 4 inches may harm the tree’s root system. If using finely textured or double-shredded mulch, use 1 to 2 inches since these materials allow less oxygen through to the root zone.

• For tree health, keep all mulch material away from the trunk. Allow the root flare (where the trunk meets the soil) to show. The root flare is at or near the ground line and is identifiable as a marked swelling of the tree’s trunk where roots begin to extend outward.

This is a properly mulched tree. Note the mulch is only a few inches deep, not mounded around the trunk. The root flare is visible and the mulch extends to the edge of the tree’s crown, or the drip line.

Other tips:

• Finely shredded mulches decompose faster and require replenishing more often.

• Before replenishing the mulch each season, check the depth. Some old mulch may need to be re- moved before adding a new layer.

• Applying new mulch over old mulch in successive years is the same as applying too deep a layer all at once.

• The appearance of old mulch can be “refreshed” by breaking up any matted layers by hand or with a rake.

On newly planted trees, mulch more than just the root ball. The goal is to promote root development away from the tree. Mulch wide, not deep.


Overmulching landscape trees is common. This is most obvious when mulch extends up the trunk, smother- ing the root flare and root zone. This practice, known

as “volcano” mulching, is never recommended and should not be utilized. As beneficial as mulch is, too much mulch is harmful. Deep mulch may suppress weeds, but it wastes time and money and can cause major health problems that lead to tree decline and possibly death.

Avoid piling mulch in the appearance of a volcano cone around trees. Volcano mulching, or piling mulch against the trunk, can cause major tree health problems.


• Oxygen starvation and root suffocation. Tree roots need oxygen to grow and function proper- ly. When too much mulch covers the soil surface, air may not penetrate the mulch layer and the underlying soil becomes depleted of oxygen. In addition, excessively deep mulch can inhibit water loss through evaporation. Once soil pore spaces become filled with water, diffusion of oxygen into the soil is essentially blocked. When soil oxygen levels drop too low, root growth declines, making it impossible for the plant to take up water and nutrients. Plant death may result if too many roots decline.

• Inner bark death. The inner bark, also called the phloem, carries photosynthates produced by the leaves to the rest of the tree. When mulch covers the root flare and trunk tissues, they stay con- stantly wet. This tissue is much different from root tissue and cannot survive under these con- ditions. Continuous moisture also interferes with

respiration by limiting gas (oxygen and carbon di- oxide) exchange between living cells in the trunk and the atmosphere. If wet conditions continue long enough, phloem tissue dies and roots are starved of essential carbohydrates.

• Disease. Most fungal and bacterial diseases require moisture to grow and reproduce. Over- mulching creates conditions where trunk diseases can gain entry through constantly wet, decaying bark, especially if there are trunk wounds under the mulch. Once established, these plant pathogens can cause fungal cankers and root rots. Cankers caused by these diseases can encircle the tree, killing the inner bark, ultimately starving the roots, and possibly killing the tree.

• Insects. Mulch piled against the trunk favors moisture-loving insects, such as carpenter ants and termites, which could colonize and expand decayed areas of the trunk.

• Rodent damage. Voles and mice may tunnel under deep layers of mulch for shelter. These pests may gnaw on the nutritious inner bark of young trees, girdling the stem. If girdling is extensive, tree death may result. This often goes unnoticed until the following spring when the tree doesn’t leaf out.

• Excessive heat. Similar to composting, thick

layers of wet mulch may heat up once decomposi- tion begins. Temperatures within mulch piles may reach as high as 140 degrees. This high heat may directly kill the inner bark/phloem of young trees or delay the natural hardening-off period that plants must go through in preparation for winter.


If you believe you have a problem with overmulched trees, carefully dig with a hand trowel to assess mulch depth. Remember, 2 to 4 inches of mulch is sufficient on well-drained soils, less on poorly drained soils. A light raking of existing mulch may be all that is necessary

to freshen old mulch and break through the crusted or compacted layers that can develop.

If mulch is piled against the trunk of the tree, visually look for the presence of the root flare where the tree meets the soil line. If the flare is buried, it is essential to uncover it. Begin by carefully pulling mulch back from the tree’s trunk until the root flare is exposed, taking care not to damage the bark. A good rule of thumb is to pull mulch 3 to 5 inches away from young trees and 8 to 10 inches away from mature trees. Spread excess mulch evenly out to the tree’s drip line, checking to ensure the depth does not exceed 4 inches. Research has shown that most trees respond rapidly with improved color and vigor once the root flare is exposed and excess mulch is redistributed.

Included here is a series of photos showing where excessive mulch was pulled back from the trunk of a young red maple and redistributed to the tree’s drip line. No mulch was removed from the site; it was simply spread out to the proper depth and kept from directly touching the tree’s trunk. It is important to

note that the amount of mulch used to create the mulch “volcano” was sufficient to properly mulch the tree.

A word of caution: you may want to consult with a certified arborist before proceeding with any root flare excavations. Trees are often planted too deep and may have the root flare buried under soil rather than just excess mulch.


• Mulch out, not up! Mulch no deeper than the heel of your hand, generally 2 to 4 inches. Mulch less

if soil is poorly drained or you are using finely textured mulch.

• Back off from the trunk! Keep all mulch away from the trunk of the tree, allowing the root flare to show just above ground level.

• Mulch to the tree’s drip line, if possible! Remember, the drip line moves out as the tree grows.

• Go organic! Arborists recommend using organic mulches. They provide tree health benefits as they decompose.

• Keep the trunk dry and the roots moist!

Prepared by David R. Jackson, forest resources educator.

Photos courtesy of David R. Jackson.

Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences research and extension programs are funded in part by Pennsylvania counties, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Where trade names appear, no discrimination is intended, and no endorsement by Penn State Extension is implied.

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Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to all qualified applicants with- out regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or protected veteran status.

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© The Pennsylvania State University 2018 Code EE0210 03/18pod

Late Fall 2017 Important Drought Alert

Fall 2017 Rain Shortage Tough On Landscape Plants

You know that watering is a vital part of keeping your landscape healthy in the hot summer months, but did you know why it’s also very important in the fall? During the first 3 quarters of this year we have had above-average rainfall conditions. The months of March, April, June and July the greater Philadelphia area has averaged approximately 5″ over normal rainfall.

As we have moved into the fall months, the script has been flipped. This abrupt drop in rainfall can have a drastic effect on the health of your plants both in the short term and over the long haul. At a minimum, plants that are stressed in the fall will be slower to respond with new growth in the spring.

Look for these at-risk plants on your property.

Plants that are stressed due to lack of water in the fall will not only drop foliage prematurely, but are likely to suffer from crown dieback in the spring, and be more susceptible to insects and disease the following year.

Be Wise - Fertilize!

Fall fertilization is also key for plant care during drought-like conditions. Our experts will evaluate your plantings and utilize a wide range of products from all-organic to quick-acting remedies. Avoid costly, time-consuming rejuvenation projects later by stabilizing your plants now.

Fall 2017 Landscape Update




April 2017
Have you had your mulch applied yet?
Shearon is completing mulching services for our current clients in the Delaware Valley and before we put our equipment away, we want to know if we can be of any help your apartment complex, HOA, private residence or commercial property?

April 2017
Revitalization of Longwood Gardens’ Main Fountain is Nearly Complete Check out the latest news at Longwood Gardens. Shearon is the landscape contractor and handles the irrigation for the Main Fountain Garden Revitalization project!

April 2017
It’s time for a breath of fresh air in the Greater Delaware Valley! Cleaning up your property for spring is a big job and our team of professionally trained staff can handle it for you. We have landscaping & turf care programs that cater to both residential and commercial properties in the Delaware Valley. Let us make your apartment complex, HOA, commercial building, or private residence a space that stands out!

March 2017
Proud day to be a Cavalier: Baseball’s home field opener -March 8, 2017

March 2017
Congratulations to Archbishop John Carroll High School & Cabrini University on your Inaugural Game – March 8, 2017

May 2016
Shearon is a member of the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia
Press Release – SBN Membership 2016.05.20

March 2016
Gillespie Field at Moravian College Named a 2016 Field of
Distinction by KAFMO
Gillespie Field at Moravian College Named a 2016 Field of
Distinction by KAFMO

November 2015
Shearon Announces Jim Erickson as Vice President of
Maintenance in Voorhees, NJ
Press Release – Jim Erickson New Voorhees Vice President 2015.11.01

March 2015
Shearon Announces Nicholas Chrin as Vice President of Design/Build in Princeton, NJ
Press Release – Nick Chrin New Princeton Vice President 2015.03.03

February 2015
Shearon Pleased to Announce Employee Registrations and
Press Release – Employee Registrations and Certifications 2015.02.23

January 2015
Shearon Purchases Compressed Natural Gas Vehicles
Press Release – Shearon Aquires CNG Vehicles

October 2014
Shearon Announces Civil Engineering Department
Press Release – Civil Engineering Announcement 2014

August 2014
Shearon Redesign of Raven’s Claw’s 13th Hole Featured
Raven’s Claw recently unveiled a Shearon designed and built revamp of the 13th hole. The bunker left of the fairway was expanded to require the golfer to make the choice of playing alongside the sandy expanse or laying up short, requiring a longer approach shot form a less desirable angle. Click above to learn more.

June 2014
Shearon Golf designed/built/maintained Raven’s Claw a 2014 Must Play
Raven’s Claw must play 2014

March 2014
Raven’s Claw Golf Club Tops in the State
For the eventh consecutive year, the Shearon Golf designed, built and maintained Raven’s Claw Golf Club in Limerick, PA has been ranked in the Top Ten in the State of Pennsylvania by
Golfweek Magazine. Raven’s Claw also listed in the Top 100 Courses You Can Play by Golf Magazine for the year 2012. Opened in

February 2014
Shearon Announces Alison Flynn as Vice President in Princeton, NJ
Press Release – Alison Flynn New Princeton Vice President 2014.02.01

April 2013
Vineyard Golf at Renault Winery in Golf Digest
Vineyard Golf at Renault Winery is featured in a travel story on Atlantic City Golf. Shearon Golf both designed and built
Vineyard Golf with a grand opening in 2004. Vineyard Golf has consistently been ranked among the top resort courses in New Jersey and was a Top 10 new course in country in 2004.

April 28-29, 2017
Shearon Sports to attend 2017 MSADA Conference & Expo
Shearon Sports will be attending the MASDA Conference & Expo on April 28-29, 2017 at the Princess Royale Hotel in Ocean City, MD.


May 11, 2017
Shearon Environmental Design to attend 2017 CAI Conference & Expo
Shearon Environmental Design will be attending CAI’s Annual Conference & Expo on May 11, 2017 at the Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, PA.


May 16, 2017
Shearon Tropicals to attend 2017 Building Engineering & Facility Maintenance Show
Shearon Tropicals will be attending the 2017 Building Engineer & Facility Maintenance Show on May 16, 2017 at the Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, PA.