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Garden Tips

CELEBRATING THE URBAN FOREST

written by
Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA
published -OCTOBER 24, 2014

CELEBRATING THE URBAN FOREST

This month, the Mid-Columbia Community Forestry Council (MCCFC) is celebrating their 20th anniversary with a tree planting at the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center. I am proud to say I am an original member of the council started in 1993. However, I usually receive perplexed looks when I mention the Tri-Cities’ urban or community forest. A forest in the Tri-Cities?

The term “forest” typically evokes visions of the multitude of big trees found in a natural setting like the Mount Rainier National Forest. The Miriam-Webster Dictionary defines a forest as “a thick growth of trees and bushes that covers a large area.” Urban forests are simply the combined collection of trees, planted and maintained by people, in our cities.

American Forests goes a bit further defining urban forests as “ecosystems of trees and other vegetation in and around communities that may consist of street and yard trees, vegetation within parks and along public rights of way and water systems.”

If you doubt you live in a virtual forest go to Google Maps and look at an aerial view of this area. The tree canopy created by the local cities and residents is remarkable, especially when you compare it to the tree canopy and green spaces that existed back when residents first settled in this area. Pictures on display at the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center show what a desolate area it was in the early days.

Today things are very different and for the past twenty years the MCCFC has been working to promote the planting and proper care of trees. The council’s continued vision is to heighten the awareness of the importance of urban trees; to extend technical assistance to local municipalities; and to provide leadership on community forestry issues.

You can improve our local community forest by planting trees in your yard. What type of tree? My favorite large trees (40

or taller) for this area are red oak, red maple, hybrid maple, gingko, and river birch. My favorite “smaller” trees (less than 40

tall) are littleleaf linden, European hornbeam, and flowering dogwood. For a copy of “Recommended Trees for the Tri-Cities” developed by MCCFC members and partners go to: http://ext100.wsu.edu/benton-franklin/gardening/

Autumn, after trees lose their leaves, is a good time to plant trees in many parts of the country. However, in our region fall planted trees must be watered during the fall and winter months to keep roots alive and to promote root growth. If you are not able or willing to provide this irrigation, wait until spring to plant your trees.

When selecting a tree for your yard, look for one with a single strong central leader with the main side branches well spaced along the trunk. Avoid trees with cracked, torn or damaged bark, evidence of borers, or signs of other insect or disease infestations. Before planting, inspect the roots, looking for girdling or circling roots, extremely pot-bound or dense root systems, and under-sized or inadequate root systems. If you notice any of these problems, return the tree to the nursery. For information on planting trees and shrubs go to: http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/FS047E/FS047E.pdf

Published: 10/24/2014 12:14 PM

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