Now that spring has arrived, you might be thinking about replacing trees lost in the October storm — plenty were lost. Summit Forester John Linson reports that approximately 200 City trees were lost due to the storm of which 76 will be replaced this year.
Thanks to a generous donation from the Summit Area Development Corporation, 25 trees on the Village Green are among those to be replaced.
For your own property, you may be wondering how to go about selecting replacement trees that will be both appropriate to your location and strong enough to weather the vagaries of our shifting temperatures. Reeves-Reed Arboretum Horticulture Manager Shari Edelson gives this advice: "When selecting trees for the home landscape, I would encourage people to think about what the tree will look like 20 years or more down the road, at maturity. For example, the white oak you plant right next to your house this spring is going to be up to 80 feet tall and wide when it’s full-grown--and as a lot of people learned as a result of the October snowstorm, it might not be a great idea to have a tree with enormous heavy limbs directly next to or over your home." Shari also added that, for the Arboretum grounds, they are looking to move toward species and varieties whose branching structure will enable them to withstand heavy snow-loading.
At the Arboretum, many trees were damaged by the storm. You can make a difference by adopting a tree there, and if you interested in seeing what tree species they have selected for planting this year, just check out the Horticulture section of the Reeves-Reed Arboretum website.
Another good resource for advice is the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County. James Nichnadowicz, a County 4-H Agent of the Extension, says, "There are so many good trees out there. A lot of what to plant, however, is determined by your site--its width, are there wires overhead, how the soil drains, how big do you want the tree to get, is it for shade, flowers, etc. If people send some photos of the site to our Master Gardener of Union County helpline, they will provide free advice. The helpline email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Or they can visit the office at 300 North Ave. East, Westfield, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday-Thursday or 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Fridays."
Excellent advice! Trees are one of Summit's most important resources for the many ways they enhance our community, not just by their natural beauty but by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, reducing soil erosion, protecting our water by reducing runoff and removing harmful nutrients, saving energy by shading our homes and businesses, enhancing the architecture of our homes, neighborhoods and our public buildings, and providing privacy.
As you think about planting new trees in your yard, stop to remember all the benefits that Summit's trees offer the community as a whole, and make a point of doing all you can to protect this important natural resource.
By Beth Lovejoy, on behalf of the Summit Environmental Commission