Every good Nebraskan knows we are the home of Arbor Day. Did you know we also have another opportunity to celebrate trees? ReTree Nebraska week is dedicated to trees. Find out why we should re-tree Nebraska and how you can take part in this week long celebration from September 22st – 27th.
ReTree Nebraska is a cooperative initiative of the Nebraska Forest Service, Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, University of Nebraska Rural Initiative, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, and Nebraska Community Forestry Council. It is a 10-year cooperative initiative which will raise public awareness of the value of trees, reverse the decline of Nebraska’s community tree resources, and improve the diversity and sustainability of trees in communities across the state that will last for generations to come.
Severe weather, drought, poor planting practices or species selection, insects, disease and an aging tree population all have contributed to the decline in the number of community trees across the state. Planting new trees is an essential part of maintaining Nebraska’s community forest, and fall planting offers important benefits.
Just because we are a ‘Prairie State’ doesn’t mean that we don’t have or need trees. Across Nebraska, there are about 470,000 acres of community forests. These trees were planted by previous generations who understood the long-term benefits they would provide, such as cleaner air, healthier soil and wildlife habitats. Planting a tree provides much-needed shade during hot Nebraska summers, which helps reduce energy costs for homeowners, schools and businesses. Every dollar invested in the community forest returns an average of $2.70 in net annual benefits. Nearly $9.7 billion in environmental, social and economic benefits are provided by 13.3 million trees in Nebraska communities, but that’s half the number of trees that were present 30 years ago.
Fall is an optimal time for tree planting. “Fall is a great time to plant trees in Nebraska because there are fewer demands on the roots, allowing trees to establish their root systems and get a jump start on spring growth,” according to Jessica Kelling, ReTree Nebraska coordinator.
When selecting a tree species, Kelling recommends considering a couple of key factors. Plant a different species than what is already growing in adjacent areas. “Enjoy the two weeks of fall color your neighbor’s red maple provides, but select a tree for your yard that provides some variety in leaf texture, form and fall color to create a diverse landscape year round.” Kelling also urges homeowners to take a tree’s mature height and width into consideration when selecting a species for planting. “Go to the planting site and look up, down and around for conflicts with buildings, utility lines and even other trees.”
If you are looking for a good tree to plant this ReTree Week, ReTree Nebraska has “Fourteen for 2014,” a list of underutilized tree species. The trees are broken down by size and type and include:
Evergreen- Concolor fir—Abies concolor, Black Hills spruce– Picea glauca var densata, Ponderosa Pine—Pinus ponderosa
Small to Medium Deciduous Trees- Shantung maple—Acer truncatum, Miyabe maple—Acer miyabei, Gamble Oak- Quercus gambelii, Japanese or Pekin Tree lilac-Syringa reticulate (‘Ivory Silk’) or Syringa reticulate ssp. pekinensis (Copper Curls®)
Large Deciduous Trees- Kentucky coffeetree—Gymnocladus dioicus, Northern catalpa—Catalpa speciosa, Baldcypress—Taxodium distichum, Bur oak—Quercus macrocarpa, Chinkapin oak—Quercus muehlenbergii, English Oak—Quercus robur, Elm hybrids—Ulmus x (‘Accolade’, ‘Cathedral’, ‘Frontier’, ‘New Horizon’, ‘Pioneer’, ‘Triumph’, ‘Vanguard’), Black or Bigtooth Maple- Acer nigrum or Acer grandidentatum
We can work together to celebrate this week as well as support a grassroots, or rather tree roots, Nebraska initiative. To learn more about ReTree Nebraska, report a tree planting, or find out more about tree selection, planting and care, visit www.retreenebraska.unl.edu or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information contact Elizabeth Killinger at email@example.com, 308-385-5088, on Facebook, Twitter, her blog at https://huskerhort.wordpress.com/, or visit the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension website: hall.unl.edu.