New Urban Forest Gravel Bed is a cost-effective way to plant more street trees
About 55 young oak, crabapple, sycamore and maple trees are getting new homes in City parks and boulevards in the fall of 2016, courtesy of a local urban forest advocacy group and Parks and Recreation’s Urban Forestry Program. The trees were purchased last spring and spent the summer bulking up their root systems in the City’s new Urban Forest Gravel Bed.
The bare root trees are the first crop to be planted from the new gravel bed housed at the Missoula Wastewater Treatment Facility. The bed safely holds bare root stock for up to 3-6 months and allows young trees to dramatically increase their root volume—making them much more likely to thrive when planted in the fall, says Urban Forester Chris Boza.
Boza says starting bare root trees in a gravel bed is a cost-effective way to supplement the urban forest. “Bare-root trees cost up to 75 percent less than a typical nursery tree, allowing us to make the most of our planting budget. We also save on labor and equipment costs when planting the lighter bare root trees, and we can purchase a wider variety of species from bare root stock.”
Trees for Missoula, a non-profit formed to support the urban forest, has contributed volunteer labor and about $2300 for equipment and materials to construct the new gravel bed.
Bare root trees are lighter and easier to plant, making them ideal for a volunteer project. “We are excited to be part of this innovative project,” says Trees for Missoula Executive Director Karen Sippy. “It provides an opportunity for volunteers and groups who would like to physically do something to help out Missoula's urban forest by planting trees.” Volunteers and urban forestry staff have already planted 13 of the young trees along South 3rd Street West and several more in Playfair Park and Russell Park West and are planting more in Wapikiya and Whitaker Parks.
Trees for Missoula hopes to have more businesses and organizations involved with the plantings next year. “I think this is a great way to get the community interested, invested and involved in the future of our urban forest,” Sippy says.
Boza is optimistic about the future success of the gravel bed. He predicts the project will eventually allow the Urban Forestry program to plant about 100 additional trees each fall. The City will continue to plant larger, more mature trees each spring and fall to ensure the age and species diversity of the urban forest. “Next year we’ll again be planting about 200 traditional nursery trees. An aggressive reforestation program is the cornerstone of the City’s urban forest management plan, and we’re always on the lookout for methods to plant more trees and increase their survival rate,” Boza added.
The Urban Forestry Division offers Cost Share Tree Planting and Memorial Tree programs. Trees are purchased in March of each year for planting in the spring. Urban Forestry staff will help residents select the right species and location for their tree. Visit the Plant a Tree link at left for more information. To learn more about Trees for Missoula, visit their website.
Hazard Tree Replacements
The Urban Forestry Division continually replaces hazard trees throughout the City on an on-going basis. Forestry crews will plant replacement trees the following spring at sites where the property owner has agreed to water and care for the new trees.
The trees selected for removal have reached the end of their natural lifespans and/or show significant die-back or damage to more than 50 percent of the tree. In this weakened condition, the trees represent an unacceptable risk of injury or damage to citizens and their property.
Most people realize dead trees should be removed as soon as they are detected. But living trees also can be a threat to life and property. A tree can look green and somewhat healthy while suffering from disease, root failure, internal decay, cracks and the like. A living hazard tree has one or more defects that decrease its structural integrity and increase the probability it will fail. The Urban Forestry Division identifies and corrects hazardous situations created by defective trees.
Adjacent property owners will be notified about the removals and informed of the options for tree replacement. For more information about the hazardous tree replacements, phone Urban Forester Chris Boza at 552-6270.
How can I prevent boulevard trees from becoming a hazard?
The most important thing you can do for boulevard trees adjacent to your property is to water them. Mature trees need a minimum of 2 inches of water per week during their growing season (May to October) to stay healthy, maintain their vigor, and provide necessary food to sustain themselves. If rainfall during the week does not supply enough water, you should make up the difference. Learn more
Proper pruning can make a difference in a tree’s health and longevity. The Urban Forestry Division prunes trees on a block-by-block basis, or, homeowners may obtain a permit to hire a certified arborist to prune boulevard trees adjacent to their property. Call 552-6253 for more information.