Arbor Day Press Release

NEWS RELEASE                January 3, 2011

Louise C. Seals, Planning Chair

It’s Tough to Be a City Tree

Are you as green as you think you are?  Try this quick quiz about trees. If the answers surprise you, plan on coming to Stay C00 l With Trees, Richmond’s Arbor Day festival, on April 16 at the Carillon in Byrd Park, and have fun while you learn from experts.  If you’re not surprised, come and have fun anyway. Everything’s free. Now to the quiz:


  1. It’s OK to take a shortcut across the tree pit in the sidewalk.
  2. I don’t have a yard so I don’t need to know anything about trees.
  3. Everyone around here plants flowers or ground cover under trees so it must be a good practice.
  4. Trees are tough and don’t mind an occasional bump from a string trimmer or lawn mower.
  5. Grass under a tree is good.
  6. Chaining my bike to a tree won’t hurt the tree.
  7. Leaving electric lights in a tree all year doesn’t hurt anything.

ANSWERS: All FALSE.  If you got all 7 right, you’re really tree-savvy! If not, here are some of the reasons it’s tough to be a city tree:

  1. If enough people take that shortcut across the tree planting space, their footsteps will compact the soil around the roots so the tree no longer takes in enough water and nutrients. Cutting across planting islands in parking lots has the same effect.
  2. Don’t you seek out shade on hot summer days? Or enjoy our parks and their beautiful trees? Do the brilliant golds and reds of fall foliage lift your spirits? Trees help reduce energy costs by providing shade in the summer and windbreaks in winter, and they slow runoff of rainwater. They increase property values and  . . .  we could go on, but you get the idea: Trees are good.
  3. Mulch instead. The other plants compete with the tree for water and nutrients. When planting the competitors, you may also harm tree roots, because more than 90% of them are in the top 18 inches of soil.
  4. Trees are tough, but the tender living tissue that transports vital water and food is right under the bark. Injuries from string trimmers or lawn mowers – or even from lovers carving their passion on the trunk – open the door to insects and disease.
  5. Repeat after me: Trees and turf don’t mix. Trees and turf don’t mix. Trees and turf don’t mix. It’s better for the tree and for slowing rainwater runoff if you mulch instead.
  6. Any injury to the living tissue right under the bark – whether on the trunk or on twigs –creates the potential for attack by insects, fungi and other enemies. Trees don’t have the ability to heal quickly like we do.
  7. See Answer No. 6.

So, are you as green as you thought?

Five or six correct –  Thank you on behalf of the trees. Four or fewer correct —  Hope you read all the answers and learned that you can indeed help determine whether city trees survive and thrive.

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