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Guest Blog: Arbor Day - Texas Style

Hello to all you wonderful KTB folks. The official Texas Arbor Day is November 1, which starts the best time to plant trees in our great state. Mark your calendars, for this special day, as we want to encourage everyone to show your trees some love!

Why do we have an Arbor Day you ask? Thanks to J. Sterling Morton's passion for trees and love of nature, he created the first Arbor Day on April 10, 1872, in Nebraska. He created this day to encourage individuals and counties to plant trees and his passion and dreams continue with us still to this day in 2019, as we carry on the word to protect and increase our precious tree canopy. (Source: Arbor Day Foundation)

What can I do to celebrate Arbor Day? There are many ways, you as an individual, municipality, county, KTB Affiliate, and school can celebrate this great day. Planting one (1) tree makes a difference…yes, one (1) tree at a time is a step in the right direction. You can plant a tree in your yard, at your office, church, park, median or right of way. Come one, come all to assist and celebrate the planting. As a Forester, I've had many different programs over the years to help improve our tree canopy. We've gathered volunteers to plant small trees along a flood plain; had a competition between rival colleges to see who could plant the most trees, and the fastest using proper planting techniques; provided presentations to school children and gave away saplings; created large Ecofest events to give out thousands of trees to citizens and much more. What I am trying to say is there is not just one way to execute an amazing Arbor Day celebration. Another idea is to take advantage of any other events during the same time that you could add your Arbor Day component into, and gain synergy to tap into that marketing and crowd that may already be established. It does not have to be a standalone celebration, mix it up. That will allow you to gain some attention for trees from people that might not regularly attend an Arbor Day Event. Some important things to remember are to make sure you have someone with good tree knowledge available to answer questions, provide education to everyone involved and anyone who will listen. Finally, make the event fun and plant some trees!

What types and sizes of trees should I plant? Native trees are the way to go. Look up your region's native trees and make sure you note the water, soil and sun requirements. It is imperative that you look up and down where you intend to plant. Look for power lines or anything that may impede the growth of the tree. You do not want to plant a large shade tree that will grow into the power lines and later be constantly cut back, to ensure the safety around those lines. Look down to see what you will be planting in, near, and how large your tree will grow. Root and canopy space is vital for a healthy tree. Always make sure you are not digging where there are underground power or gas lines, safety first! The size of the tree is dependent on the funding or donations you may receive. I know in this Great State of Texas, we always say BIGGER is BETTER, but that is not always the case with trees. Dependent on your budget you may have to go with a smaller size tree…fret not, with time and love, it will grow! I recommend if you are planting at a school or park that you plant a larger tree (from 15 gallons and up), as kids and mowers are hard on trees and many will not survive the abuse. One issue I often see is water. All sizes and types of trees need water. You must have a plan and the ability to water your new trees and yes…watering is needed even in the winter!

There are many resources out there to help you select the right tree for your region, teach proper planting instructions, select the proper place to plant, create a great Arbor Day celebration and how to maintain and properly manage your trees after you plant them. I have several links to assist you with this type of information. One of the best resources we have is the Texas A&M Forest Service. Go to the website and find your regional Forester to help guide you through the wonders of maintaining a healthy forest. Other great resources include the Arbor Day Foundation website and their tree information, as well as this Know Before You Grow brochure. 

Now get out there and PLANT A TREE, GROW A FOREST and LEAVE A LEGACY!

Blog Post Written By Heather Dowell, Certified Arborist TX-3511, Midlothian Parks & Recreation Director and KTB Board Vice President. 


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