Celia Garcia, Conservation Corps, Los Angeles, CA

A Single Mom Found a Good-Paying Job Planting Trees for the City of Los Angeles.

portrait-Celia-Garcia[1]Planting trees changed Celia Garcia’s life. A high school drop-out and single mom with two children, she faced bleak career prospects and worried about paying her bills before she connected with the Los Angeles Conservation Corps.

It was not a passion for trees that brought Celia to the Corps, a city jobs training program aimed at struggling young adults. Rather, Celia was drawn to the possibility of completing her high-school education and finding meaningful work.

Celia not only found a job, she began building a career. After finishing her coursework, she gained valuable experience in the Corps’ tree nursery. Later, she started working on the Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Million Trees LA project, contacting residents to gauge their interest in new trees along their property and then following through with the planting herself.

figure1-Celia-Garcia[1]“You can see your work grow,” Celia said, with pride. “Once we plant a tree in a school or a parkway, I can go back in the future and say, ‘I planted that tree.'” Since 1986, more than 1,300 young adults each year have benefited from the Corps’ job training and educational opportunities.

Check out our other Faces of Urban Forestry.

Tree Care Tips for the Tree of Life: Arborvitae (thuja occidentalis)

Arborvitaes are among the most popular trees to plant because of their numerous benefits, including their fast growth, tall heights, and year-round green foliage. In fact, arborvitae is a Latin form of the French phrase “l’abre de vie,” or “tree of life.” Arborvitaes prove this to be true through their versatility in tolerating a wide range of soils and climate conditions.

American-ArborvitaerowArborvitae trees are a great choice if you’re looking to install a windbreak or natural privacy fence. There are numerous varieties to choose from, including American Arborvitae, Emerald Arborvitae and Green Giant Arborvitae. If you’re looking for fast growth then you might lean toward the green giant arborvitae, growing three feet a year and reaching up to 50-60 feet in height at maturity. If you don’t mind the wait and prefer something with a narrower spread, then you’ll appreciate the uniformity of American arborvitae.

Despite being low-maintenance, arborvitaes still need some care. Here are a few tree care tips to foster the best growth for your arborvitae in its early years.

Environmental conditions for fast growth

Depending on the variety of arborvitae you select, you’ll want to be sure to plant trees approximately three feet apart to avoid root crowding and competition of nutrients and water; even trees don’t like to starve.

  • Arborvitaes do best in soil that is well drained but moist, rich and deep
  • pH of 6.0 (slightly acidic) to 8.0 (alkaline)
  • Full sun exposure is ideal, but they will grow in partial shade
  • Geographic regions with high humidity

Tree Pruning

green giant arborvitaeArborvitaes dense foliage provides sufficient privacy and at the same time are attractive additions to landscaping. Many arborvitaes take on a nice pyramid shape without pruning. If you must prune then limit it to once a year and keep the following in mind:

  • Prune in the fall or early winter, if pruned in the summer the tips of the pruned branches may turn brown
  • Never remove more than ¼ of a tree’s crown in a season
  • Ideally, main side branches should be at least 1/3 smaller than the diameter of the trunk

It may not be a sour idea to read Keys to Good Pruning just to be sure you’re not crippling them.

Potential threats

  • In times of drought, tree watering is important, but too much of a good thing can be bad so don’t overdo it (Proper Summer Watering of Trees has some helpful ideas)
  • Young landscape trees will need protection from deer in many areas, consider a Tubex tree shelter to keep wildlife away
  • Pest and Disease Problems: Bagworms are sometimes attracted to this species, but can be removed by hand in winter, or controlled with a biological pesticide
  • In forest or land development situations, large openings can lead to windthrow—trees uprooted or broken by wind— due to its shallow root system

Whichever selection you go with be sure to nurture your tree with proper care.

Check out additional Tree Care Tips & Techniques or share some in the comments below.

Dave Bowman, Retired U.S. Air Force pilot, Fayetteville AR

The University of Arkansas, businesses, homes and parks are tied together in Fayetteville with a 28-mile system of trails.

portrait-Dave-Bowman[1]The University of Arkansas, businesses, homes and parks are tied together in Fayetteville with a 28-mile system of trails.

“Sometimes as many as 1,000 people a day use the trails,” says Dave Bowman, a member of the volunteer Trail Trekkers that serve as ‘eyes and ears’ for the city.

“It’s the best thing since peanut butter,” Dave laughs. He credits trees, which were planted deliberately to enhance the recreational experience, for making the trail special.

figure2-Dave-Bowman[1]“I’ve seen trails that just go through grass, and that’s no way to do it,” he says, whereas trees provide shade, a windbreak and a feeling of being in the country. “They offer a chance for people to get back to nature, and provide habitat for wildlife.” One youngster counted 300 bird species in one year.

As the caregiver for two family members, Dave is especially grateful for the several days each week he spends on the trails. “You see a lot of smiling faces,” he says.

Check out our other Faces of Urban Forestry.

Protecting Trees From Lightning

sky lightning tree

Flickr | Doug Wertman

As we transition into summer we pay adieu to colder climates and prepare for vibrant home landscaping projects. While the colder months are behind us, there are still proactive measures we should uphold in maintaining healthy trees. Rainy season is upon us in different parts of the country and there are certain steps we can take in reducing damage to trees caused by lightning strikes. Bartlett Tree Experts reports that more than one million trees are struck by lightning every year.Trees are most vulnerable to lightning because of their tall heights, providing a pathway for positive charges from the ground to lead to the negative ions in thunderclouds and vice versa. Additionally, their tree sap and water serve as good conductors for lightning.

tree lightninig

Flickr | Micky

If a lightning strike doesn’t immediately kill a tree, then it may weaken it to the point that insect and disease do. Lightning strikes affect the biological functions of a tree. Along the path of the strike, sap boils, steam is generated and cells explode in the wood, leading to bark peeling. Not all is lost; if only one side of a tree is struck the chances of survival are good. If the strike passes through the tree trunk and has splintered bark or exploded wood, chances are the tree didn’t survive.

You can install a tree lightning protection system to minimize your trees being harmed. A lightning protection system is basically a copper cable line that runs along the tree, intercepting a lightning bolt and guiding it to the ground opposed to striking the tree.  It’s important to have it professionally installed to avoid doing more harm to the tree, or worse, collateral damage to the surrounding area.

tree lightning far away

Flickr | Spiros Bolos. A tree struck on one side by lightning

It may not be the most cost-effective route to install a lightning protection system to all your trees, especially if you’re living on acreage or have hundreds of trees on your property. Narrow your options down by selecting trees of historical significance, high value trees, or trees that are within 10 feet of a structure or with limbs overhanging the structure. If a tree within 10 feet of a home is struck, side-flashes (jumps) may pass to more conductive materials such as downspouts and other metal objects. Tall trees are the most susceptible, especially those growing alone in open areas such as on hills, in pastures, or near water, as well as certain species including tulip tree, oak, pine, and maple.

Installing a lightning protection system to trees is an investment, but the cost of installation is likely to be less than the repair or removal of a dead tree once it is struck. Check out our When a Storm Strikes bulletin to read up on other safety measures and steps to post-storm damage.

Wayne Miles, Pastor, Blades, Delaware

A Removed Tree Goes on Serving

portrait-Wayne-Miles[1]For years, Pastor Wayne Miles worried about a large street tree next to his Baptist church. The tree was buckling the sidewalk creating a tripping hazard and its roots threatened the building’s foundation.

It wasn’t until a city official suggested he contact Mandy Tolino that something was done about the problem. Mandy was Wilmington’s newly hired urban forestry administrator, a position funded with start-up money from the U.S. Forest Service. Within a week, Mandy arranged to have the tree removed, the roots ground up, the sidewalk repaired and a new tree planted.

Pastor Miles saw another benefit from the experience. “They cut up the wood,” he says. “The nice part about that was that a man who had just been let go from his job asked us for the wood. He had a small child and winter was coming on.”

“Maybe this tree had a purpose,” reflects Pastor Miles. “When there is a conscientious-minded administration and sincere people like Mandy, then they can blend that together where man can coexist in terms of what God has provided us in nature.”

Pastor Miles sees the old tree as “there for a blessing.” He also reports that his congregation is delighted with the new tree and it will be there providing even more benefits for many generations.

Check out our other Faces of Urban Forestry.

Jason Worley, Technology manager, Deutsche Bank

Trees Transform Mixed-Use Commercial Property

portrait-Jason-Worley[1]An un-used air field in Jacksonville, Florida is being converted to a mixed-use commercial area, but thanks to Greenscapes of Jacksonville and its partners, part of the barren area is being restored to native habitat. With the help of Deutsche Bank, the Florida Forest Service and the city forestry department, 6,000 longleaf pines are being planted.

figure1-Jason-Worley[1]As a participant in the project, Jason Worley says, “I want to build a generation of stewards who can see how important it is to restore areas to their natural state.” He notes early success of the project saying, “When we checked back we already saw mammals and reptiles back in the space.” Jason believes this project will benefit not only the area’s wildlife, but also his family and future generations.

figure2-Jason-Worley[1]Jason says there was a role for everyone in the project, including local residents. The project required site preparation, fund-raising, managing a volunteer work force, equipment logistics, and professional forestry advice. The result is an area converted to a sustainable, natural forest that will benefit wildlife and local residents of all ages while at the same time enhancing nearby commercial property.

Check out our other Faces of Urban Forestry.

Frances Oyung, Coordinator, Bear Creek Watershed Council

portrait-Frances-Oyung[1]Trees Save Endangered Fish

The shading affect of trees not only provides comfort for people, but also ensures the survival of cold water fish. Frances Oyung heads a collaborative effort to reduce the hot glare of summer sun on this important tributary of the Rogue River.

“Shade from trees is the primary factor in reducing the creek’s temperature and keeping salmon alive,” says Frances. Through a grant from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Frances and her partners have planted more than 600 native trees, including cottonwoods, Oregon ash, alders and a variety of conifers.

figure1-Frances-Oyung[1]Were it not for support from state officials, Bear Creek would be overheated and fish would be unable to survive.

The overall goal is to reverse the effect of 150 years of land uses that have led to a high level of stress on coho salmon, Chinook salmon and steelhead trout.

figure2-Frances-Oyung[1]“It is a slow process and gargantuan job,” says Frances. But the cooling effect of restored trees is already making a difference.

Do you have an Arbor Day Foundation story that you’d like to share?  Please tell us all about it in the comments section below. We’d love to hear it!

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Rain Forest Rescue in Madagascar is Saving More Than Forests, it is Saving the Lemurs

toucanTropical rain forests are home to half of the world’s plants and animals, and a source of food, medicines and other plant-based products that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. But according to the California Institute of Technology, about 2,000 trees per minute are cut down in rain forests, destroying natural habitat and displacing wildlife.

Rain forest deforestation affects us all. Approximately 25% of all medicines on the market today come from plants found only in tropical rain forests including treatments for a variety of cancers, malaria and multiple sclerosis. Additionally, deforestation leads to the growing extinction of many species, such as the adorable lemurs.

BW Lemur

Black and white ruffed lemurs provide an ecological service by aiding fruit seed germination through digestion of seed coatings.

Lemurs are small primates found exclusively in the forests of the island nation of Madagascar. As much as 80% of Madagascar’s forests have been destroyed, leading to a diminishing population of rare species. Lemurs are unique because they play a key role in the future of trees.  Ninety percent of a lemur’s diet is fruit. As a result of their diet, lemurs eat frequently and process their meals more rapidly.

What does this have to do with trees? The seeds left behind from a lemur’s meal have their coatings removed, allowing for germination in the forest. In fact, the germination rate of seeds processed by lemurs is nearly 100 percent, compared to only 5 percent of unprocessed (or coated) seeds. Lemurs not only live off of the forest, but they’re replanting it too.

lemur disperser
Lemurs are the primary seed disperser of the Madagascar’s eastern rain forest at Sangasanga Mountain.

 The Arbor Day Foundation and Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium joined forces to advance the reforestation efforts led by the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership in Kianjavato, Madagascar by planting hundreds of thousands of trees to restore habitat. In 2009, the lemur population at Sangasanga Mountain was only eight. As of 2015 the population increased to six times what it was, with a lemur population of fifty! The impact of the reforestation effort in Madagascar has helped more than just the forest; it is helping bring back a species from the brink of extinction.

Saving an endangered animal such as the lemur comes from the help of Arbor Day Foundation members through programs such as Rain Forest Rescue. Thanks to the support of members, the Arbor Day Foundation is able to help restore the forests of Madagascar and provide habitat to save the endangered lemurs. Additionally, the reforestation effort is improving the economy and living conditions of the local people through jobs in tree nurseries and on the mountain sides planting those trees.

If we’re able to increase the lemur population by six times on one mountain top in Madagascar, imagine what we can accomplish on the rest of the island. Tropical rain forests contain more species than any other ecosystem on Earth, yet are being destroyed at an alarming rate. Check out our latest Rain Forest Rescue Report  to see the other impacts our replanting efforts leave.

One tree, two trees, my trees are small trees!

Planting in small areas can be challenging, especially if you want to add some height to your landscape. Consider adding small trees that will excite your senses!

Small trees are perfect for any landscape and add color to entry ways, curbs, and long sidewalks. These small trees are sure to standout and add charm next to your home every spring and some even all year round! Continue reading to discover which small trees have caught our interest.

Smoketree_1-920The mutli-stemmed smoketree holds true to its name- growing blooms that are wispy clumps of filaments. This easy-to-grow specimen turns a smoky pink color from June through August. Growing 10’ to 15’, it is a good choice for a shrub border or other grouping.

Ann-Magnolia_1-860The ann magnolia is a member of the “Little Girl” group of hybrid magnolias developed in the mid-50s at the U.S. National Arboretum. Its profusion of deep purple-red blossoms resemble tulips and bloom in mid-to late March.  Sometimes, the tree blooms again in the summer. At maturity, the Ann magnolia grows to a height of 8’ to 10’.

Japanese-Red-Maple_1-866After 300 years of cultivation, the Japanese red maple is still a beloved tree. It offers a warm touch of red to any yard in the spring and fall, and features a green summer leaf. Red, winged seeds attract squirrels, chipmunks, quail and songbirds. This taller landscape tree matures to about 15’ to 25’.

Purpleleaf-Sand-Cherry_1-816Purpleleaf sand cherry  tree‘s year-round beauty and smaller size makes it an excellent choice for landscaping. Its fragrant white and pink flowers blossom in spring while featuring simple leaves with an intense reddish-purple color. The small yields of plump red berries are an important food source for small birds and mammals including robins and cardinals. The Purpleleaf matures to 15’ to 25’.

Downy-Serviceberry_1-919A phenomenal large shrub that can be trained into a single trunk tree is the downy serviceberry. The combination of flowers, vibrant fall foliage and wildlife value will add lots of visual enjoyment to your yard. This wonderful little tree reaches 15′ to 25′ at maturity and produces plump red berries for pies, preserves and fresh eating.

Did your favorite small tree make the list? If not, share your favorite in the comments!

Before you start planting, get helpful tips and information on tree care, and to find out which trees grow best in each hardiness zone. You can find all of these trees and more in our Tree Nursery. Get a discount on all of your trees when you become an Arbor Day Foundation member.

Peaches, cherries, and plums! Oh my!

Wouldn’t it be fun to pick fruit from your own trees at home? We have selected a variety of choices that are both delicious and add beauty to your landscape. Each selection grows in both a standard and dwarf sizes- suitable for many types of landscapes and gardens. Before planting, consult our fruit tree spacing guide to make sure you reap full benefits of your yummy fruit trees.

Golden-Jubilee-Peach_1-892The Golden jubilee peach tree begins to produce abundant yields of high-quality, tender and juicy fruit between ages 3-4. It survives colder climates better than other peaches and can be expected to grow in zones 5-8. This popular yellow freestone peach ripens around July, several weeks before Elberta peach trees. Scented pink blossoms appear in spring, adding a sweet bonus to your landscape.

Bing-Cherry_1-809America’s favorite cherry tree, bing cherry, produces sweet large fruit by the pound- as much as 50-100 lbs. per year. Excellent for fresh eating and preserves, the fruit ripens in mid-June to mid-summer. Its white spring blossoms also add beauty to your landscape in spring. Ideal for zone 5- 8.

Methley-Plum_1-907A cultivar of Japanese plum, Methley produces heavy, annual crops of sweet and juicy plums perfect for fresh eating or jelly. Sweetly fragrant white flowers bloom in early spring and fruit ripens in late May to mid-July. This tree is self-fertile and grows in zones 5-9.

Add flavor, color, and more beauty to your landscape by creating your home orchard. Be sure to read an earlier blog post for helpful steps before you begin planting! Visit the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Nursery to find more variety of fruit trees, perfect for your landscape. Get a discount on all of your trees when you become an Arbor Day Foundation member.