Can individuals purchase trees from Trees Forever
Generally Trees Forever does not provide trees to individuals. Our goal is to empower and engage volunteers and individuals in environmental stewardship. If your community actively participates in Trees Forever programs, you may have an opportunity to adopt a tree for your yard to improve energy efficiency. If you are a farmer wanting to demonstrate planting trees as buffers to improve water quality, you may qualify for funding and assistance. To find out if your community has a Trees Forever program, review our current maps or give us a call at the Trees Forever office at 1-800-369-1269.
If Iowa, Illinois and the Midwest was largely prairie, why are we planting trees?
According to early survey maps, Iowa had an average of 18% forest cover and Illinois had 38%. Today, Iowa has less than 4% of its original forest left and much of that is far less quality than our more diverse original forests. While the Midwest had a large percentage of prairie, it also had beautiful forests, especially along rivers and streams. Communities were often given names associated with “groves,” even in areas that were largely prairie, indicating that groves of trees had established themselves in the midst of the prairie. These were naturally sought out for building homes and towns. Today, we plant trees for many reasons, but in cities and towns they are a basic requirement—essential for quality of life. They provide protection from winter winds and the hot suns of summer. In rural areas, they are an essential buffer between fields and streams. Trees Forever supports an ecosystem approach which often includes trees and native prairie plants in planting projects.
Why so much interest in Oak Savanna?
For the Midwest, savanna can be defined as an ecosystem comprised of an overstory of ”open” or sun-grown oak trees with a groundcover comprised of a mixture of native grasses, wildflowers and sedges. Savannas are becoming very rare and are constantly being lost to shading and overgrowth by other tree and shrub species, soil compaction due to over grazing and development. Most savannas today exist as remnants of their former selves. You may spot large savanna oaks with low hanging, spreading limbs now surrounded by smaller trees and brush, the direct result of a lack of natural fires since settlement. With careful management, degraded savannas can be restored. Today it is common to create a savanna like landscaping project in communities, at entranceways or on rural lands.
What trees should I plant?
There are so many great trees to choose from, but we can’t recommend a tree without knowing your site and your area. Here are some basic guidelines to follow: if you have an area large enough for a shade tree, please plant a tree that has the potential to get large and provide shade, and improve air quality and wildlife habitat. Plant smaller trees under larger trees as “understory” or under power lines. Always plant a diversity of species, and do not plant trees with known problems such as ash. Do some research on what trees are best for your spot by asking two to three experts for advice. Observe the trees in your neighborhood or area that have withstood the test of time. In general, native species are recommended. Before digging to plant your trees, you are required by law to call 811 a minimum of 48 hours before you dig to have any underground utility lines located. Visit www.call811.com for more information.
How do I plant a tree for maximum energy efficiency?
Plant deciduous trees due west of west windows and due east of east windows to reduce unwanted heat generated by morning and late afternoon sun in summer. Avoid planting trees on the south side of homes and businesses. Trees in this location can block 50% of the sun's energy, which provides needed warmth in winter. Plant trees around air conditioners and pavement to provide a cooler environment. Plant evergreens (conifers) to the north of buildings to provide shelter from harsh winter winds. On large urban sites and acreages, plant conifers to the west and north to create a windbreak.
Does Trees Forever manage individual tree care and health issues?
Without a firsthand, on-site inspection of a tree and conditions surrounding it, it is very difficult to accurately diagnose problems. Due to limited resources, Trees Forever does not assist in directly managing individual tree care and health issues. However, we would be able to connect to you a local affiliate of ours that may be able to assist you along with directing you to the services of certified arborists, other professionals and your county’s extension office to submit a sample for disease diagnosis. Trees Forever works with local and area service organizations, tree boards and city governments to educate local individuals on tree care and health concerns. If you would like us to refer you to a local affiliate, put you in contact with other professionals or discuss the opportunities to host an educational workshop in your area, please contact us. The internet is also a source of excellent information.
Are any trees and shrubs deer resistant?
Although no plant species can be guaranteed to not be eaten by deer, there are some plants that deer do not seem to bother until all other available food sources have been depleted. A good reference is a publication put out by ISU Extension (PM 1302g), Managing Iowa Wildlife: White-Tailed Deer, which you can download from extension publications on the Iowa State University website, www.iastate.edu. In general, species that are thorny or aromatic like, barberry, birch, dogwoods, spruce and most pines (except white pine; a favorite of deer) are the most resistant. In the fall of the year, male (buck) deer rub their antlers on the trunks of (mainly younger) trees as they mark their territory for the mating season. These rubs can significantly shorten or even kill a tree if the active growing layer just under the bark is damaged. If you live in an area with high deer populations, it is important to protect your younger trees in the fall from rubs and scrapes of buck deer. This can be done by placing a mesh, or light colored trunk guard on the tree, or temporarily fencing around each tree.
How to Plant a Tree
The ideal time to plant a tree is during its dormant season (after the leaves drop in the fall and until the buds break open in the spring.) Proper handling is essential to ensure a healthy future for your new tree. By following the steps below, you will help your tree get established properly.
First, dig a hole that is 3 times the width of the root ball and deep enough to cover the roots but not too deep that it covers the root flare (the slight swelling at the base of the trunk). The root flare may be covered by dirt in the container, so you should gently remove excess dirt until the root flare is exposed. Second, remove the container the tree came in. It is important to cut any roots that circle around the root ball. If necessary, you can cut off the outer inch of the root ball so that all roots are growing out from the trunk and not wrapping around it. Third, place the tree in the center of the hole. Straighten the tree before you start adding soil around the roots. After you determine the trunk is straight, start filling in the hole with soil a few inches at a time and settle with water.
After the tree is in the ground, you will want to mulch the area around the trunk, leaving a few inches around the base free of mulch. The mulch should be 2 to 4 inches deep. Mulching will prevent damage to the tree by mowers and prevent weeds from growing close to the new tree. Finally, thoroughly water your new tree once a week if it has not received an inch of rain that week. Watering should be done whenever the ground is not frozen for the first 2 years after planting. A tree generally needs 5 gallons of water plus 5 additional gallons for each inch of trunk diameter measured 6 inches above the ground (caliper). For example, a 2-inch caliper tree would need 15 gallons of water per week.
Click here for a visual diagram of proper tree planting.