A Time for Trees

By: Steve Irvine

Pinpointing the beautification efforts by the City of Huntsville’s Landscape Management Department can be as broad as the city boundaries itself.
“I would say there is a continued interest in promoting greenspace and landscape that over the years compounds and greatly increases the beauty of the city and the environmental benefits that we all get,” said City of Huntsville arborist Marc Byers.
Byers and his landscape crew spend their days caring for the City’s public trees. Pruning, fertilizing, removing and planting are all part of the job.
“It’s a little bit of everything, but the big projects that make the impact come from the administration,” said Byers, who is Forestry/Horticulture supervisor for the city, when asked how the projects come to life. “The medium-sized projects come from our department. We’ve got some neighborhood initiative tree planting that we’ve done. Occasionally, on my scale, we’ve seen properties that I need to add, fix or replace. That’s how we go about that.”
As it turns out, February is prime tree-planting season and landscape projects – big and small – either dot the landscape or are set to start around Huntsville. At the forefront, is the beautiful Magnolia Garden in John Hunt Park and an ambitious project to add more than 200 trees on the Aldridge Creek Greenway. Another project getting set to start is a tree planting initiative in Five Points.
The Aldridge Creek Greenway project is part of a grant received by the City of Huntsville’s Operation Green Team Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports the City’s Landscape Management Department and is governed by a volunteer board of directors. The project is slated to include 12 to 15 different types of trees and should begin in the spring.
Tree Planting Workshop
On Feb. 7, Byers and the City’s Green Team members will hold a free public seminar on tree planting. The seminar will begin at 10 a.m. at the Landscape Management offices on Leeman Ferry Road. Byers said a period for questions will be held at the end of the seminar. Each participant will also receive a tree while supplies last.
So what should you expect to learn?
“We’re just going to go over basic tree planting and care,” Byers said. “I think it’s just to encourage people to plant trees, to continue to maintain our green space and, when doing so, to do it properly to help ensure long term success. There is a lot to choosing the proper tree for the proper spot, planting it properly and then caring for it all through the way through as it grows.”
One of the most critical things to do when choosing to plant a tree on your property, according to Byers, is asking important questions before any work begins.
“For a homeowner, the easy way to do it is to determine where your spot is by what the conditions are in that location and then pick a tree that thrives in those conditions,” Byers said. “They have particular sites where they can plant a tree. The first thing you go into is if there any room for a tree. Are there buried utilities that will conflict with the tree in the future or overhead utilities that will conflict with the tree. When the tree gets a large size and shades my grass will I still be happy with it? Grass vs. trees is a constant conflict within a neighborhood. Often, it involves tradeoffs. When you know what the tradeoffs are then you’re much more satisfied with the results.”

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