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Spring Tree Planting - Think Before You Plant

DES MOINES – Given the continuing impact of EAB on Iowa’s ash trees, homeowners and communities need to think twice about their tree selections before planting this spring.

“The best way to prevent a devastating loss of a single species, like ash, is to concentrate on diversity in your yard, neighborhood and community,” says Paul Tauke, DNR Forestry Bureau Chief.

Current inventory of 357 Iowa communities shows a significant lack of tree species diversity. Among these communities, maple species represent 37 percent of the public trees, ash account for 17 percent, followed by oaks at seven percent.

“This lack of tree diversity creates a great risk of major tree loss due to insects or disease,” says Tauke. “It is essential that both communities and homeowners look carefully at their current tree canopy and choose trees species that are not already over-represented.”

Homeowners and community planners need to look for trees that offer desired benefits such as fall color, shade, fast growth, and match them properly with the site characteristic such as soil type, drainage and available space for the tree at maturity. Be sure to look around the yard and neighborhood and select a species that will add to the diversity of the block. 

“Trees have a big impact on the character of a neighborhood,” says Tauke. “A diverse mix of trees is necessary for maintaining a healthy and resilient community forest. A wide variety of species that are well-suited for a site, can help ensure the community’s tree canopy is a valuable resource for the future.”

To aid in making informed tree selections, the DNR has created a new publication titled “Rethinking Maple – Selecting Trees for Your Yard.” The publication is designed for both homeowners and community planners to help guide tree planting by matching species benefits and needs with site characteristics. The booklet also contains general planting tips. The publication can be downloaded from the DNR website at www.iowadnr.gov/urbanforestry Communities can place bulk orders of the booklet by contacting laura.wagner@dnr.iowa.gov

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