The dish on dirt: why soil is important to tree health

Have you ever planted multiple trees or shrubs at the same time and noticed one variety flourishing while the other has no progress? There are numerous factors that could be affecting your plant health, including soil. It’s not uncommon to overlook soil care while planting if you’re new to the green scene. We become so caught up with tree care above ground that we forget what’s happening below is just as important. Since trees grow from the ground up, it’s essential to understand their relationship with soil and the role soil plays on tree health. Using the wrong type of soil, or neglecting to use healthy soil altogether, can be detrimental and cost you your trees.

What works for your pink dogwood trees won’t necessarily work for your blueberry bushes. You see, each tree calls for a different soil type, the most common being sandy, silt, and clay. landsoils1[1]Soils vary from one location to the next. When high-quality soil isn’t present you can mix soils to change textures and create a soil more suitable for planting. Sandy soil has larger particles and a rough texture. Since the soil base is loose it’s harder to retain moisture, making it harder for plants to access nutrients. Silt is comprised of fine particles and has a smooth, slippery texture. Its tight compaction can serve as an advantage in retaining moisture and nutrients, or a problem if planted with the wrong tree.  Clay is the most tightly packed soil with little air space; as a result it makes it difficult for air and moisture to penetrate the soil.

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Signs of Chlorosis are typical of a nutrient deficiency.

Soil performs five essential functions; using the wrong type of soil or unhealthy soil can impede tree health by constricting roots from accessing the water and nutrients necessary. Soil helps regulate water, supports biodiversity, filters pollutants, provides physical support, and cycles nutrients. You can understand why attempting to plant a tree that requires less soil saturation may not thrive if it’s planted in silt or clay soil. Signs of unhealthy soil include leaf discoloration, brittle limbs, and even stunted tree growth.

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Exposed roots pose as a threat to tree health.

It’s also important to dig a hole deep enough for tree roots to grow. Planting in shallow soil makes tree roots more susceptible to exposure which can lead to tree stress and even toppling due to wind gusts. If you have bedrock near the surface of your soil that prevents you from digging deep you might consider mixing in top soil to add depth.

Plant growth is directly influenced by soil conditions. That’s not to say that if your plants show these signs that it’s a result of poor soil. Several varying factors go into tree health and soil care is one of them to keep in mind while planting young trees.

What tips do you have in maintaining healthy soil for planting?

References:

USDA Soil Health

University of Florida IFAS Extension

 

 

 

 

NBA Community Forestry Matchup: Miami Heat V. San Antonio Spurs

The National Basketball Association’s finals are set to begin tonight. With two respected teams battling for the championship, we examine each city’s urban forestry program in a challenge of our own. Who will win the championship in our Urban Forestry Matchup?

Miami

bayfront1[1]This diverse city of culture, entertainment, and commerce has a lot to offer to travel enthusiasts and international investors; is the city’s tree canopy impressive enough to lure in tree huggers and environmentalist? Let’s see if Miami’s urban and community forestry program lives up to the bill.

Through the Million Trees Miami Campaign, the city aims to improve its current tree coverage standing from 14 percent canopy coverage to 30 percent by the year 2020. The effort engages local organizations, cities, and residents in tree plantings to make Miami a more sustainable city.

The city’s trees remove 2,300 tons of air pollution every year. In addition to the cleaner air the city saves as much as $300,000 in energy savings, not a bad deal for a city with regular sunshine. Miami continues to strive to improve its green standing.

San Antonio

sanantoniotx-downtown-san-antonio[1]Rich in history, sports, and family fun, San Antonio proves to be a city with something for everyone. Does Texas’ second largest city have what it takes to set itself up as a sustainable city? Let’s take a look at San Antonio’s urban and community forest.

Despite impressive tree coverage of 38 percent, in 2011 San Antonio set a goal to increase its tree coverage to 40 percent by the year 2020. With tree initiatives in place and community engagement, the city is continually striving to meet its target.

In fact, the tree canopy removes as much as 13 million pounds of pollution from San Antonio’s air. With cooling costs estimated at as much as $17.7 million annually, the shade provided by city trees confirms the benefits of investing in urban and community forestry.

Community forestry programs are an asset to cities, communities, and neighborhoods, contributing to their environmental and economic well-being. The benefits made possible by a healthy, vibrant community tree canopy are enjoyed by current and future generations.

Which city do you think earns the championship trophy in our community forestry matchup?

 

References:

American Forests Urban Exosystem Analysis http://www.systemecology.com/4_Past_Projects/SanAntonio_low%20res%20final.pdf

University of Florida IFAS Extension http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fr347

Million Trees Miami Campaign http://milliontrees.miamidade.gov/

Multiple benefits of urban ecosystems: spatial planning in Miami, USA http://www.teebweb.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/TEEBcase-Multiple-benefits-of-urban-ecosystems-spatial-planning-in-Miami-USA.pdf

NHL Community Forestry Matchup: New York Rangers V. Los Angeles Kings

Anticipation fills the air as hockey fans await the National Hockey League’s final series where the New York Rangers will play the Los Angeles Kings for the Stanley Cup. While ESPN looks at the team stats, we turn our attention to the teams’ city urban forestry stats. Which city will take home the Stanley Cup in our community forestry matchup?

New York City

This city of dreams has a vision of its own: it wants to be America’s first sustainable city. For outsiders, the idea of a greener New York may seem ambitious for such a congested social hub. How will the city achieve such a goal? Simple, through an exceptional and practical effort introduced by former Mayor Bloomberg called PlaNYC. The plan— unveiled in 2007— brought together 25 city agencies to work toward strengthening the economy, combating climate change, and enhancing the quality of life for all New Yorkers. Let’s take a peek at how this plan spans out.

2007-08-18_11-51-18_corrected[1]This city of eight million residents is currently home to five million trees. Don’t be deceived by the concrete jungle, as nearly 40 percent—11,000 acres— of New York City is parkland. The city’s trees remove 2,202 tons of pollution per year. In addition, building energy savings equate to $11.2 million per year. Under MillionTreesNYC, the city aims to plant one million trees by 2017.

Los Angeles

echoparkpic[1]Los Angeles is part of the million tree initiative aimed at planting one million new trees throughout the city. Million Trees LA is a public-private partnership between the City of Los Angeles, local non-profit organizations and businesses. In an effort to reach its goal, Million Trees LA actively provides trees to local residents and businesses.

Los Angeles may be ahead of its time when it comes to Hollywood glamour, but will the city set the trend in environmental sustainability? The city of nearly four million residents is home to 10 million trees. In fact, 11 percent of LA is comprised of trees—15,000 acres. The city’s tree canopy removes 2,000 tons of pollution annually. The city saves as much as $10 million annually in energy savings.

Community forestry programs are an asset to cities, communities, and neighborhoods, contributing to their environmental and economic well-being. The benefits made possible by a healthy, vibrant community tree canopy are enjoyed by the current and future generations.

Which city do you think earns the Stanley Cup in our NHL community forestry matchup?

Arbor Day Award Winner Highlights: Award for Education Innovation

Each year the Arbor Day Foundation recognizes outstanding individuals, environmental leaders, and innovative organizations for their sustainable conservation efforts on an international, national, state and community level through the Arbor Day Awards Program. The 2014 Arbor Day Awards were presented April 26 at the Lied Lodge and Conference Center in Nebraska City. During May we’ll highlight the award winners.

Award for Education Innovation—Delaware Center for Horticulture:

The Award for Education Innovation recognizes innovative education programs that successfully introduce and teach their audience the importance of trees and serve as an inspiration for future environmental stewards.

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Jen Bruhler of the Delaware Center for Horticulture plants a tree at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park. Photo by Carrie Benes.

The Delaware Center for Horticulture believed that combining job training with tree planting helps not only individuals, but the community at large. That philosophy lead to the launch of the Return to Work Green Jobs Program in 2009. What started as an education program to employ ex-offenders to plant trees has now grown to become a meaningful life changing model, transforming both lives and communities.Since its inception, dozens of men and women have received classroom and field training focusing on urban forestry, urban agriculture and public landscapes and have been gainfully employed.

A recent program graduate shared:

“Coming from prison, to working with trees, to be honest with you… trees saved my life. I’ve seen the other side, and it was very rewarding to have the opportunity to work with the staff at the Delaware Center for Horticulture.  The staff there gave me a new view not just on trees, but also on people.  This program gave me the tools to work in my neighborhood, and finding out about these different lifestyles gave me the vision to want to do something better with my life.”

The Return to Work Green program demonstrates firsthand the lasting impact a tree planting can have in restoring hope where it is needed most.

Are you aware of an outstanding individual or organization that is an exemplary steward of our Earth?  If so, please consider nominating them for our 2015 Arbor Day Awards.

Arbor Day Award Winner Highlights: Public Awareness of Trees Award

Each year the Arbor Day Foundation recognizes outstanding individuals, environmental leaders, and innovative organizations for their sustainable conservation efforts on an international, national, state and community level through the Arbor Day Awards Program. The 2014 Arbor Day Awards were presented April 26 at the Lied Lodge and Conference Center in Nebraska City. During May we’ll highlight the award winners.

Public Awareness of Trees Award—American Chestnut Foundation:

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Bryan Burhans from the American Chestnut Foundation plants a tree at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park. Photo by Carrie Benes.

The Public Awareness of Trees award is presented to an organization or individual whose innovative work elevates the public awareness and understanding of the importance of trees.

The American Chestnut tree comprised more than 200 million acres of eastern woodlands up until the first half of the 20th century when the chestnut blight infested the region, affecting one-fourth of the hardwood tree population. The mission of the American Chestnut Foundation is to restore this tree to our eastern woodlands to benefit our environment, our wildlife and our communities.

The return of the chestnut to its former role in the Appalachian hardwood forest ecosystem is a major restoration project that requires a multi-faceted effort involving extensive public engagement.

The foundation has two major public awareness initiatives: the American Chestnut Learning Box—an educational tool that brings the story of the chestnut to classrooms, nature canters and civic groups—and The Charlie Chestnut Environmental Education Program—curriculum designed to inspire students to learn more about the environment and American chestnuts. With 16 state chapters and more than 5,000 members, the American Chestnut Foundation is better able to generate public awareness toward the campaign.

Are you aware of an outstanding individual or organization that is an exemplary steward of our Earth?  If so, please consider nominating them for our 2015 Arbor Day Awards.

Arbor Day Award Winner Highlights: Award for Excellence in Volunteer Management

Each year the Arbor Day Foundation recognizes outstanding individuals, environmental leaders, and innovative organizations for their sustainable conservation efforts on an international, national, state and community level through the Arbor Day Awards Program. The 2014 Arbor Day Awards were presented April 26 at the Lied Lodge and Conference Center in Nebraska City. During May we’ll highlight the award winners.

Award for Excellence in Volunteer Management—University of California-Irvine Shadetree Nursery:

The award for Excellence in Volunteer Management is presented to a community, group, or organization for their outstanding efforts to mobilize and engage volunteers in tree planting and care within a community.

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Matt Deires of the University of California Irvine plants a tree with his parents Peg & Maurie at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park. Photo by Carrie Benes.

Established in 1996 as a three-way partnership between the University of California-Irvine, the Irvine Ranch Water District, and the nonprofit Shadetree Partnership, this long-term community partnership provides trees and support for community tree planting projects throughout southern California.

The Shadetree Nursery Program provides guidance to communities and volunteer coordinators on planting, site selection and provides tools, volunteer training and education at no cost.  The work volunteers do is essential to providing quality nursery stock to be planted on public lands, whether it’s repotting trees or weeding and raking.

The Shadetree Nursery Program successfully led the way in expanding the local tree canopy through volunteer efforts with more than 30,000 shade trees planted during the past 19 years through volunteer tree planting projects.

Are you aware of an outstanding individual or organization that is an exemplary steward of our Earth?  If so, please consider nominating them for our 2015 Arbor Day Awards.

Spring Tree Blooming, Planting (and shipping) is Underway

righttreeplaceThe vivid blooms of spring trees and shrubs are one of the season’s absolute highlights for many of us—from the magnolias and forsythias that herald the start of the season to the redbuds, crabapples and flowering cherries that steal the show with their spectacular displays, to the heavenly scent of lilacs that pervade gardens and yards this time of year…giving us pause, and almost always, an involuntary, “ahhh.” It’s a season that seems to intrinsically say to us, “let’s grow something!”

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Have you done your tree and shrub planting for this year? Depending on where you are in the country, planting season may be at its height, or perhaps may have just passed. For places in higher Hardiness Zones, i.e. much of the west coast and southern U.S., the window of time for planting has likely passed–it’s already getting quite warm in those regions, which isn’t going to give your new tree its best chance at survival and growth.

 hardiWhat’s a Hardiness Zone? The Plant Hardiness Zones divide the United States and Canada into 11 areas based on a 10 degree Fahrenheit difference in the average annual minimum temperature. (The United States falls within Zones 2 through 10). For example, the lowest average temperature in Zone 2 is -50 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit, while the minimum average temperature in zone 10 is +30 to +40 degrees Fahrenheit. Learn more about Hardiness Zones at arborday.org.

But in other parts of the country, for example, the northern, midwestern, northeastern and more inland northwest, planting time for trees and shrubs is in full swing. Maybe you’ve got a bare, new yard, or perhaps you’re adding to an existing array of trees and shrubs. Need some landscape design inspiration? Arborday.org has free, professionally designed landscape plans that focus on trees and shrubs, available to anyone for download. One such plan is called the Flowering Green Giant, a design combining a beautifully contrasting trio of trees—the rich green of a Green Giant Arborvitae, the sprightly, springtime yellow of Forsythia, and the dazzling profusion of white blooms that grace the Yoshino Cherry Tree.  Other designs include the a bird-attracting tree/shrub combination (Bird Magnet Hedgerow), a blooming shrub plan set beneath an existing shade tree (Shrubs Under a Shade Tree) , a flowering tree/hedge plan planted along an existing wood line (Flowering Woods Edge), and more!

Know what trees you want but haven’t gotten to ordering them yet? If you’re in Zones 2-5, you can still order trees from the Arbor Day Foundation Online Tree Nursery for large array of affordable trees and shrubs.  (Look up your Hardiness Zone here if you’re not sure what zone you’re in). Because we only send trees at the best time for planting in your area, our final deadline for accepting orders for these higher zones (that will still be delivered this season) is May 14. If your zone’s window for ordering has passed but you’re still full of inspiration and enthusiasm to plant, consider placing your order to prepare for next planting season—your trees will ship to you at the opportune time to plant this coming fall.  Fall planting has many benefits, especially its ability to give trees a fighting chance at establishing and developing strong roots before the harsh heat of summer. Read more about the benefits of fall planting here.

Already have your trees (or have them on the way) and are ready to plant? Consider our 9 Tree Care Tips & Techniques, an easy-to-follow guide that takes you step by step from selecting and planting the right tree, to the care and upkeep of a mature tree. Remember, what you do to your tree in its first few years of life will affect its shape, strength, and even its life span. Planting done with care and some knowledge of trees and their needs will help your trees grow more rapidly and live at least twice as long as improperly planted trees.

Another great source of information is our comprehensive set of Tree City USA Bulletins, which feature in their issues such topics as “How to Select and Plant a Tree,” “Trees for Wildlife,” “How to Landscape to Save Water,” “How to Prevent Tree/Sign Conflicts,” “How Trees Can Save Energy,” “Making Good Use of Small Spaces” and many more.

One last thing—before you get that hole dug and your new tree planted, make sure you’ve got “Right Tree in the Right Place.” Planting an appropriate tree in an appropriate location is vital for the health and longevity of the tree as well as your satisfaction with it—for example, a tree too close to the house could be a hazard, and a tree with “too-tall” potential will be unlikely to remain if it interferes with a power line overhead.tree house

Are you gearing up for planting trees and shrubs right now, or have you just finished? What did you plant? Please let us know in the comments.

Arbor Day Award Winner Highlights: Excellence in Urban Forest Leadership Award

Each year the Arbor Day Foundation recognizes outstanding individuals, environmental leaders, and innovative organizations for their sustainable conservation efforts on an international, national, state and community level through the Arbor Day Awards Program. The 2014 Arbor Day Awards were presented April 26 at the Lied Lodge and Conference Center in Nebraska City. During May we’ll highlight the award winners.

Excellence in Urban Forest Leadership Award—Forest ReLeaf of Missouri:

The Excellence in Urban Forest Leadership Award is given to an exceptional individual or organization whose work provides innovative leadership in advancing sustainable community forestry efforts at a local, state, or national level.

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Donna Coble of Forest ReLeaf and Missouri state forester Lisa Allen plant a tree at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park. Photo by Carrie Benes.

Forest ReLeaf has helped in reshaping the tree canopy in communities across Missouri through civic engagement. Forest ReLeaf has collaborated with city and state forestry officials in creating volunteer management programs such as TreeKeepers and ForestKeepers.“Forest Releaf has been a key partner working with the Missouri Department of Conservation for over twenty years to improve our Missouri tree resources in communities large and small.  Their primary mission of growing container-sized trees that are available to communities free of charge has provided the support many towns needed to increase their tree canopy cover for the benefits of all citizens,” said Lisa Allen, Missouri state forester.

The joint effort has resulted in growing, planting, and management of more than 120,000 trees across the state. More than 4,000 of these trees are part of the Joplin Community Tree Recovery campaign replanting efforts.

Are you aware of an outstanding individual or organization that is an exemplary steward of our Earth?  If so, please consider nominating them for our 2015 Arbor Day Awards.

Arbor Day Award Winner Highlights: Forest Lands Leadership Award

Each year the Arbor Day Foundation recognizes outstanding individuals, environmental leaders, and innovative organizations for their sustainable conservation efforts on an international, national, state and community level through the Arbor Day Awards Program. The 2014 Arbor Day Awards were presented April 26 at the Lied Lodge and Conference Center in Nebraska City. During May we’ll highlight the award winners.

Forest Lands Leadership Award—The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency:

The Forest Lands Leadership Award is given to an individual or organization whose outstanding work provides leadership in advancing sustainable forestry efforts on public forest lands.

Brant & Patricia Miller, Damon Hollis and Jason Maxedon of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency plant a tree at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park.

Brant & Patricia Miller, Damon Hollis and Jason Maxedon of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency plant a tree at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park. Photo by Carrie Benes.

 

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service partnered to develop the West Tennessee Wildlife Resources Conservation Plan. By focusing on the habitat needs of wildlife and fish resources in West Tennessee, the partnership intends to reconnect fragmented forests into a continuous travel corridor for wildlife. Approximately 3 million trees have been planted to date and tens of thousands of acres of natural forest has been restored.

Are you aware of an outstanding individual or organization that is an exemplary steward of our Earth?  If so, please consider nominating them for our 2015 Arbor Day Awards.

Arbor Day Award Winner Highlights: Promise to Earth Award

Each year the Arbor Day Foundation recognizes outstanding individuals, environmental leaders, and innovative organizations for their sustainable conservation efforts on an international, national, state and community level through the Arbor Day Awards Program. The 2014 Arbor Day Awards were presented April 26 at the Lied Lodge and Conference Center in Nebraska City. During May we’ll highlight the award winners.

Promise to Earth Award—Physicians Mutual:

The Promise to Earth award recognizes sustained commitment and leadership by a corporation that partners with the Arbor Day Foundation on special projects.

Left to Right: Chris Johnson, Kim Holzapfel, John Rosenow, Deb Walton and Bob Gunia

Left to Right: Chris Johnson, Kim Holzapfel, John Rosenow, Deb Walton and Bob Gunia at the Arbor Day Awards ceremony.

One of the most successful insurance companies in the world, Physicians Mutual found a way to memorialize the lives of their customers and contribute to forestlands. Through the Arbor Day Foundation’s Trees In Memory program, Physicians Mutual helps to plant a tree in memory of customers at the time of their death. And through the Trees in Celebration program – also carried out by the Arbor Day Foundation – Physicians Mutual helps to plant a tree in honor of a customer’s birthday. The programs have left a profound impact on both forestlands, and the families of customers.This year also marks the 10 year anniversary of the partnership between Physicians Mutual and the Arbor Day Foundation. As a way to commemorate this important anniversary, Physicians Mutual launched the “Plant One, Celebrate Many” tree pledge—an initiative to plant one tree in the Oglala National Grasslands in Nebraska for every “like” the company’s “Plant One, Celebrate Many” Facebook page receives.

“We believe this new campaign is a great addition to our company’s commitment to restore and sustain our environment for future generations, while creating a lasting tribute to every life they represent,” said Bob Gunia, Physicians Mutual senior vice president.

During the past decade, Physicians Mutual has helped with reforestation efforts in Ocala National Forest in Florida, Huron-Manistee National Forests in Michigan and is currently planting trees in Bastrop State Park in Texas.

In partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation, more than 250,000 trees have been planted in forests across the country.

Are you aware of an outstanding individual or organization that is an exemplary steward of our Earth?  If so, please consider nominating them for our 2015 Arbor Day Awards.