2017 Arbor Tips

January - Pruning Trees

While not all trees go completely dormant, such as Live Oaks and Magnolias, the dormant phase is the best time to prune.  This time is usually in late winter when it is coldest, just before spring.  One reason is that while the tree is dormant, it will lose its leaves giving you the best opportunity to look over your tree to find limbs that should be removed, such as those that are dead or have defects.  For evergreens, which are trees that do not shed their leaves, this is the time of year when the canopy is the thinnest.  Here are a couple quick tips to keep in mind when pruning trees:

  • Always make proper cuts (e.g. cut limbs or branches back to the branch collar or lateral limbs)
  • Do not top
  • Never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf baring canopy

To learn more, visit the Arbor Division or contact the City Urban Forestry Supervisor at 229-259-3530.

February - Georgia Arbor Day

Georgia Arbor Day is held in February on the third Friday.  This year in Valdosta, we will be celebrating for an entire week - February 13-17.  To learn more, please check out our exciting Arbor Week Celebration events.   

March - Mulching

Spring will be here officially on Monday, March 20th and many are starting to clean up their yards and place mulch.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind when placing mulch around your trees and shrubs:

  • Leave at least 6 – 12 inches clear of mulch at the base of the tree or shrub
  • Never pile mulch up around the base of the tree or shrub because this can hold moisture around the root collar causing unnecessary pest and decay
  • Mulch no more than 4 inches in height
  • When possible, extend the mulch all the way to the edge of the canopy or “drip line”

To learn more, please visit the Arbor Day Foundation “The Importance of Mulching” or contact the City Urban Forestry Supervisor at (229) 259-3530.

April - Celebrate Nature

April is a great month to reflect on trees and nature by celebrating Earth Day and National Arbor Day.  To highlight this exciting month, here are just a few of the many reasons we plant, preserve and protect our trees:

  • Attractive
  • Provide habitat for birds, animals, etc.
  • Improve air quality
  • Reduce air and noise pollution
  • Minimize stormwater and erosion
  • Save energy costs for cooling and heating
  • Increase property values as much as 20%
  • Reduce crime
  • Stimulate economic growth
  • Enhance human health and wellness

To learn more, please visit the Green Cities: Good Health or contact the City Urban Forestry Supervisor at (229) 259-3530.

May - Drought Tolerant Plant Material

With several areas of the state of Georgia experiencing water restrictions due to drought conditions, it is always a good time to think about native and drought tolerant landscape designs.  Below are a few popular trees, shrubs and ground covers that will not only grow in our area, but do well in droughts.

TreesShrubsGround Cover
American HollyChase TreeCarolina Jasmine
Bald CypressJuniperConfederate Jasmine
Chinese PistachioTea OliveCreeping Juniper
Crepe MyrtleViburnumMondo Grass

To learn more about each of these and other options, check out the NC Extensionand just enter the name into the Search Box.  Also, to find out more about the water restrictions in Georgia, please visit the Georgia Department of Natural Resources – Water Conservation.

June - Trees and Crime

Did you know that trees and other natural landscape may help reduce crime?  Some studies have shown that less crime occurs to both property and people in neighborhoods that are greener than those that are barren, with nearly identical housing units.  When people are outside together, they start to get to know each other and form relationships, which means they recognize strangers, so the more eyes on the streets the fewer opportunities for crime to occur.   

As with all things, planning and maintenance are important factors to consider.  For example:

  • Grass: Typically requires mowing twice a month during the warmer months and once during the cooler months.
  • Shrubs: Some are fast growing and need to be trimmed often, while others reach a certain height and rarely need shaping.
  • Trees: Every tree species grows at different rates, so please contact our City Urban Forestry Supervisor at (229) 259-3530 for more information.

Together we can help make our community safe and attractive.

To learn more, here are some additional resources:

July – Hurricane Season

Hurricane season officially began June 1 and will end on November 30th so it is very important to pay attention to our trees.  Prior to all the recent rain we have received, our community was in an extended dry time.  These significant changes in the weather can result in various tree failures so take a few minutes to walk around and look for any changes in your trees.  For example, with extra water weight this can make limbs hand lower than normal so look for cracks or broken limbs.  Also, look for bleeding wounds or decay on your trees.  If you see a hole in the tree with large amounts of water or sap oozing from it, that may be a sign of decay.   

To learn more, check out “Managing Hazards and Risk” or contact our City Urban Forestry Supervisor at (229) 259-3530.  

August - Defense Mechanisms

Trees and plants play an important role in our everyday lives.  They clean the air, provide oxygen, improve water quality, reduce erosion, and so much more.  Since they are stationary, some have developed defense mechanisms to protect themselves.  Here are a few ways:

  1. Thorns are sharp features that can be found on branches, twigs, and trunks of the tree and measure up to 4 inches long. Examples include hawthorn, kapok, and citrus trees
  2. Crypsis is where a plant will close its leaves when touched or shaken to make it appear dead and re-open a few minutes later.  Example includes the Mimosa Pudica
  3. Chemical Signaling is when plants release volatile organic compounds to warn nearby plants, ward off the enemy, or attract the enemy’s predator.  Examples include willow, poplars, and sugar maple trees

To learn more, visit Botanical Barbarity: 9 Plant Defense Mechanisms or contact our City Urban Forestry Supervisor at (229) 259-3530.

September - Trees: A Labor of Love

On September 5, 1882, the first Labor Day holiday was celebrated in New York City.  Today, Labor Day is celebrate on the first Monday in September and based on the Department of Labor it “is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.”  To many, this day provides a three day weekend to relax with family and friends.  This year, to help celebrate this special holiday, the Arbor Division would like to highlight the Memorial Tree Program which honors a number of individuals and organizations by planting trees throughout our great community.  Memorial trees can be found all throughout our community, such as at City Hall, Valdosta Police Department, and various schools and parks.  In several cases, parks were built and dedicated to individuals, such as Taylor-Cowart Memorial Park and Shannon Hill Memorial Park.  Other examples include:

  • Judge Thomas Guy Connell who through his leadership helped bring I-75 through our community.
  • Bette Bechtel who was the first woman elected to serve on City Council in 1972 and successfully achieved the adoption of the first Tree Ordinance in 1978.
  • Marie Greene Youmans Crockett who taught dance for more than 50 years and actively involved in bringing the arts to Valdosta, supporter of women’s rights, helped build the Woman’s Building, and founded the Empty Stocking Fund.   
  • Felton Davis Sr. who was the resident architect for the Valdosta High School on Williams Street and designed a number of homes and building in his 60 years in Valdosta.

As public servants, we work hard each day to serve our community, while also preparing and building for our future.  No action is too small and together we can do amazing things.  To learn more about the 93 memorial trees, please visit our Memorial Tree Program website where you can find an interactive map and read a brief summary about each memorial tree recipient.

Pictured above: Bette Bechtel and Charlie Marcus at the 2017 Arbor Day Ceremony, Tree dedication to Molly Huckaby Hardy, and Memorial Tree for Christopher "Seth" Cassotta.

October - Tips and Tricks

With cooler weather coming soon, trees will start to show their fall colors.   North Georgia is known for its beautiful display of oranges, reds, and yellows, but South Georgia has showy trees as well.  As the days get shorter, this lets the trees know that fall is coming so it starts to retrieve important nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus from the leaves before they fall off, which results in the changing of color.  Here are a few Tips and Tricks to help you enjoy the fall season:

  • Evergreen trees such as a Nellie Stevens Holly or Little Gem Magnolia tend to keep most of their leaves, so if you would like to see more of those fall colors in South Georgia, consider planting a Bald Cypress, Ginkgo, and/or a variety of maples.   
  • Save time and energy by placing your leaves in brown bags so that they don’t blow back across your yard or in the street.
  • Prune trees in the winter during the dormant months to help remove dead and/or excess branches, which will also help reduce cleanup next fall.

To learn more, visit Top Fall Trees or When to Prune or contact our City Urban Forestry Supervisor at (229) 259-3530.

November - Saving Energy and Money

Trees can be beautiful, provide habitat for wildlife, but also help you save energy AND money throughout the year.  Research has shown that by planting the right tree in the right place, the average homeowner can save up to 20 percent on energy bills.  For example, when trees are planted on the eastern and western sides of your home or business, this can provide Summer Shade and result in less energy needed to cool and a lower power bill.  Those very same trees can provide Winter Warmth by allowing the sunshine through the branches and cut down on heating costs. 

To learn more, please visit the Arbor Day Foundation - Energy Saving Trees and the Georgia Forestry Commission – Making Your Home More Energy Efficient By Planting Trees or contact the City Urban Forestry Supervisor at (229) 259-3530.

December - Tree Shopping

It’s December and many will be on the lookout for the perfect tree!  They come in so many shapes, sizes and types, so keep in mind what’s the best option for you, how to care for it, as well as what to do with it afterward.  Artificial trees are pretty easy, but if you choose a live tree or a tree that you can replant later, here are a few helpful tips:

Buying Your Tree

  • Buy fresh from a reputable nursery or cut your own to help extend the life of the tree.
  • If you purchase a pre-cut tree, needles should not fall off so check for freshness by pulling your hand towards you along the branch.
  • Keep in mind that only a small percentage of trees that are kept indoors all winter can survive outdoors if you take that route. 

Caring for Your Tree

  • Saw a couple of inches off the bottom of the trunk before setting it in water.
  • Watering is critical so never let the water level go below the tree’s base. 
  • Be sure to keep your tree away from heat.

Reusing Your Tree

  • Use your tree as the base of a brush pile.
  • Sink old trees in your pond to make a cozy area for aquatic life.
  • Chip the tree into mulch or bring it to the free Keep Lowndes Valdosta Beautiful (KLVB) Bring One for the Chipper event.

To learn more, please visit The Old Farmer’s Almanac.  Also, if you are interested in giving the “original green gift” this year, check out these options at the Arbor Day Foundation.