Earlier this year, Tree Board Member Anne Sharp and I graduated from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry Tree Commission Academy. The two-year program provided Anne with background knowledge and information she will find useful as a member of the city of Sidney’s Tree Board. The program greatly enhanced my knowledge of the importance of the urban forest.
So often we take the urban forest for granted until there is a devastating, catastrophic event like the Dutch elm disease of the 1950s. Between 1950 and 1970, more than 77,000,000 elm trees died across the United States.
The biggest lesson learned from the devastation of Dutch elm disease is the importance of having a variety of trees along streets, in parks, and home landscapes so that no disease or pest that may arrive can kill a large proportion of the trees.
Unfortunately, the emerald ash borer has created even greater devastation. It has killed tens of millions of ash trees thus far and threatens to kill most of the 8,700,000,000 ash trees in North America.
In the past couple of years, much of Sidney’s urban forestry budget has been consumed by paying contractors to remove ash trees too large for city crews to cut. As a result, the $50,000 grant received from the Dayton Power and Light Company two years ago provided a needed boost to our financial resources and enabled the city to plant trees both along streets and in our parks. In addition, we have had others step forward and plant trees, including Dayton area resident Brent Devitt, who planted trees in several communities including Sidney as part of his Trecycle campaign last year.
Thus, Sidney’s Tree Board, under the able leadership of Chair Ann Asher, was excited when they learned that there was an opportunity for good quality trees to be offered to residents at a reasonable price. As a result, the city’s first ever tree sale took place last year, and about 300 trees were ordered by residents.
The sale’s success surprised everyone involved. We were told by organizers in much larger communities (i.e., Cincinnati, for example) that they had just 25 trees ordered the first year, and we should not be discouraged if we had only a few trees ordered. State Forester Wendi VanBuren certainly encouraged our efforts and is to be commended for her enthusiastic support of urban forestry best practices within our community.
Sidney’s Tree Board members, who in addition to Ann Asher and Anne Sharp, include Vice Chair Mike Jannides and members Rick Steenrod and Ross Moore, recently announced that they would be offering six different varieties of trees again this year. Those trees include the sugar maple, yellowwood, white pine, American plum, bur oak, and bald cypress.
The species were selected because they are all easily grown in our area. Each tree will come in a five-gallon container, be delivered to the city service center, and be available for pickup on Saturday, Oct. 27 from 9 a.m. until noon.
As you decide which variety you might want to purchase, I’ll offer a brief description for each variety — the sugar maple tolerates most soils, has moderate drought resistance, grows somewhat slowly and does best in full sun. It has showy fall colors that range from yellow to orange to red, and may vary from year to year. They will grow to a height of 60 to 75 feet. When delivered, the young tree will be 4 to 6 feet in height. It will cost just $33.
Yellowwood is a low maintenance tree. It grows best in moist, well-drained areas, grows slowly, prefers full sun, blossoms in the spring, and has a brilliant yellow color in the fall. It will grow to a height of 30 to 50 feet. It will be 3 to 4 feet in height when you pick it up for planting, and will cost just $19.
The white pine prefers moist soil but is drought tolerant, does well in either full or partial sun and works well as a windbreak, especially when planted with other white pine trees. It is highly sensitive to road salt. It will grow to a mature height of 50 to 80 feet, but when delivered, will be between 2 and 3 feet in height. Each tree will cost $32.
The American plum grows best in moist, well-drained soil, is drought tolerant, grows at a moderate rate, has large, showy blossoms in the spring and produces edible fruit. The foliage will turn yellow in the fall. It will grow to a height of 15 to 25 feet, but when delivered, will be just 4 to 5 feet tall. It will cost just $17 per tree.
The bur oak grows well in moist soils, has some drought tolerance, grows slowly, prefers full sun, and produces large acorns. It will grow to a mature height of 70 to 80 feet. When delivered, the tree will be between 5 and 6 feet in height and is $32 per tree.
The bald cypress grows in sandy, clay and well-drained soils, is tolerant of wet conditions, grows slowly and prefers full sun. Unlike most cone-bearing trees, the bald cypress loses it needles each winter and grows a new set in the spring. It will have a russet-red color in the fall. It grows to a mature height of 50 to 70 feet, but when delivered, will be 5 to 7 feet tall. It too, will cost $32 per tree.
Although the trees are grown by Woody Nursery in Indiana and are Grade A trees, neither the city nor the nursery is guaranteeing the trees since once they leave our control, we have no way of knowing the care the person receiving the tree is providing them.
Order forms are available online at www.sidneyoh.com, or can be picked up at the reception desk at City Hall, the Service Center, Shelby Public Transit, the Senior Center, The Spot, and Amos Memorial Public Library. The deadline for ordering trees is Sept. 14 — less than a week from now!
Sidney first earned designation as a Tree City, USA in 1989, and has continually met the standards each year since. As I noted earlier the loss of trees due to disease has been devastating. Hopefully through programs like this, we can begin to replace some of the losses we have experienced.
I would point out that none of these trees will be suitable for planting in the tree lawn. They can only be planted in your yard. In addition, I would strongly urge you to call 8-1-1 prior to receiving the tree so that all utility lines that may happen to be in your yard can be located. I would urge you not to plant trees over water or sewer lines and if you have buried power lines in your yard, a safe distance away from those lines as well.
If you have specific questions about any of the variety of trees being offered, you can contact any member of the Tree Board. In addition, Sidney is fortunate to have two certified arborists employed by the city. They include Joyce Reier and Brian Green. They too, are available to answer questions about the varieties of trees being offered for sale. Order forms and payment can be dropped off at the Service Center, 415 South Vandemark Road, or mailed to Joyce Reier at that address.
Last year, I purchased two trees and planted them the day I picked them up. Both the red bud and the tulip poplar trees that I purchased are doing well. I plan to purchase at least one more tree this year and would encourage citizens to take advantage of the sale. On average, a tree produces 260 pounds of oxygen each year — it takes seven to eight trees to produce enough oxygen for each person annually — another great reason to plant a tree
The writer is the mayor of Sidney.