STILLWATER – Longtime friends Steve Dobbs and Mark Bays recently met at the Stillwater Public Library to check out a tree project the two were involved in 28 years ago.
The timing of the meeting coincides with Oklahoma’s celebration of Arbor Week, March 20-26.
While the rest of America celebrates National Arbor Day in late April, Oklahoma honors trees the last full week of March because it’s the “perfect time to plant new trees,” Dobbs says. .
Dobbs is currently a horticulture consultant with Facilities Management Landscape Services at Oklahoma State University, but 28 years ago hosted OSU Agriculture’s television show, Oklahoma Gardening.
Bays is the Urban and Community Forestry Coordinator with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
“It was great to come back to the Stillwater Public Library to see how the trees are doing that were purchased with a grant to the town of Stillwater from the Oklahoma Forest Services when the library was established” , Dobbs said. “The success of these trees is a good example of what proper planning, planting and maintenance will do. It is important to keep in mind the right tree in the right place.
According to Bays, the landscaping of the Stillwater Public Library is a success thanks to planning that took place nearly three decades ago.
“It’s great to come back and see that the foresight they put into this design at the library has really paid off,” Bays said. “The trees have grown very well and are certainly improving the landscape. This is a good example of planting trees for the future.
Dobbs also noted that landscape planning for the library all those years ago played a part in the trees surviving several ice storms and the summer heat.
“That’s what happens when you focus on proper planting,” Dobbs said. “The same factors that went into this project should be followed by homeowners when planning their own landscape.”
Some of the biggest mistakes homeowners make when planting trees are placing them too close to homes and other structures, planting near power lines, and planting improperly, Dobbs added.
Bays said a tree’s future success depends not only on choosing the right tree for the right location, but also on the mulching, watering and care needed to establish it fully.
“A lot of times homeowners think all they have to do is dig a hole and put the tree in there, but it’s more than that,” Bays said. “Proper long-term maintenance will help ensure the tree is able to withstand whatever Oklahoma weather has to offer.”
Trees can improve the environment in urban and rural communities of all sizes, Bays pointed out.
“Trees are more than something kids can climb,” Bays said. “They also have great health benefits as they remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reduce air pollution.
“They filter ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide from the air we breathe, and established trees can also add value to a person’s property.”
In addition to the health benefits, tree roots hold the soil in place, which reduces erosion, said Casey Hentges, Oklahoma Gardening host and assistant specialist at OSU Extension.
“Erosion can cause a lot of problems in residential and commercial landscapes. Trees also intercept rainfall and reduce the amount of runoff into sewers, streams and rivers, which helps improve water quality” , said Hentges.
“Trees can impact your wallet because they protect your home in the form of shade and windbreaks,” Hentges said. “It helps homeowners reduce their heating and cooling costs.”
Research shows that spending time around trees can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and improve mood, Bays said.
“There is so much information online to learn more about the health benefits of trees. Green spaces and tree-lined streets encourage walking and outdoor activities,” he said. “Children who play outdoors are more relaxed and attentive, which helps with school performance. Trees are more than just a feature of the landscape.
See the Healthy Trees, Healthy Lives website for more information on the impact of trees on human health.
The OSU Extension HLA-6414 Planting Trees and Shrubs fact sheet offers more information on planting trees and shrubs. For more information on landscaping, click here.
To learn more, visit eeo.okstate.edu.