Operation Releaf Adds Nearly 2,000 Trees to Iowa this Spring
Posted: 06/11/2013

DES MOINES – The spring 2013 Operation ReLeaf events were a great success! The Iowa DNR Forestry Bureau, Interstate Power and Light Company, an Alliant Energy company, and local partners teamed up to offer eight residential tree distribution sites throughout the state this spring, selling more than 1,950 trees to homeowners who utilize Alliant Energy.

Operation ReLeaf is a residential tree planting program that promotes long-term energy and natural resource conservation funded by Alliant Energy and administered by the Iowa DNR Forestry Bureau with assistance from local municipalities, county conservation boards, and county extension offices. Through the program, Alliant Energy residential customers may purchase high-quality landscaping trees for $25 each. These trees typically retail from $65 - $125.

With the trees in the ground, the Iowa DNR Forestry Bureau has a few reminders about tree care:

• Water the tree during the entire summer. Unless you get an inch of rain in a week, apply 3- to 5-gallons water directly on the root ball 1- to 3-times per week. Increase frequency during hot and dry periods. Watering tip: drill a small hole in the bottom of a five-gallon bucket, fill it and allow the water to slowly seep directly onto the root ball area.
• Remove all tags, packaging, and bamboo. The tree can grow around and into the bamboo if left in place, which can eventually cause decay and early mortality. 
• Trees do not benefit from staking if it can stand on its own. If the base of the tree is blowing over and unable to hold in place, staking will help the roots be established. If you are considering staking visit, extension.iastate.edu/forestry/tree_planting/stake.html
• Continue to mulch the trees each year. Make sure mulch extends all the way to the drip line of the tree in the shape of a donut, 2- to 4-inches deep. Too much mulch around the trunk can cause the bark to decay. Instead, pull the mulch back a couple inches from the trunk. 
• Only prune when necessary. You should not prune your newly planted trees for the first 2- to 3-years unless correcting for a central leader or removing damaged or crossed branches. Remember, the more leaves, the more energy the tree can produce for growth. Once the branches are approaching two inches in diameter, prune to train for a terminal leader or to remove lower branches when they approach two inches in diameter. Never remove more than a third of the canopy when pruning. For fruit trees, follow specific instructions. Only prune oak trees from November through February, to prevent oak wilt.

For more information visit, treesaregood.com/treecare/resources/Pruning_YoungTrees.pdf

Fall 2013 distributions are scheduled in Clinton, Dallas, Des Moines, Fayette, Linn, Marshall, Washington and Worth counties. Order forms will be available online in July at alliantenergy.com/releaf. For more information about tree care, or Operation ReLeaf, call the Iowa DNR Operation ReLeaf coordinator, Laura Wagner, at 515-281-6749.