Sequoyah Elementary School Students Celebrate Arbor Day

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Sequoyah Elementary School Students Celebrate Arbor Day; City Crews Implement Fall Tree Planting and Trimming Projects

Posted: 10/27/2017
Students at Sequoyah Elementary School will celebrate Arbor Day at their school and plant trees at 1:15 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 3. While Arbor Day is traditionally celebrated in the spring nationwide, the City of Knoxville opts for the fall season.

“Here in East Tennessee, our dormant temperatures are more ideal for root growth," said Kasey Krouse, the City's Urban Forester. "In the winter, trees can establish root systems in this region, whereas in the spring, the roots are competing with energy spent on limb, leaf and flower growth." 

The students will be planting tulip poplar and red bud trees donated by Trees Knoxville. The Arbor Day event also includes a school ceremony organized by the City’s Tree Board, which is a board of advisors that assists in the street tree master plan and spreading the word about trees in Knoxville.

“We feel that trees are a very important part of our community, and it’s essential to help our youth understand trees’ impact on our air and water quality, especially in the Tennessee Valley, which faces air quality issues,” said Dale Madden, a member of the Tree Board and this year’s Arbor Day Chair.

Sequoyah Elementary School is located in the Sequoyah Hills neighborhood, home to Sequoyah Park and many old-growth trees. According to Krouse, Sequoyah Park boasts some of the last remnants of Knoxville’s older ash tree generation, as well as some impressive specimens of mature magnolia and oak trees. 

Cherokee Boulevard, the neighborhood’s primary thoroughfare, is a popular route on the dogwood trail in April. However, crews are in the process of replacing many of the trees lost to the recent drought. 

“This is a perfect example of the importance of being mindful of where and how specific tree species are planted,” said Krouse. “Dogwood trees are understory trees – rather than specimen trees – and that means they’ll have a harder time surviving a drought like the one we just had when they’re planted in direct sun exposure.”

Typically, the City hires a contractor to plant an estimated 500 trees each year in parks and public spaces, such as right of ways and medians. Trees Knoxville also plants roughly 100 trees each year, supplementing the City’s efforts. Beyond that, trees are usually planted as part of capital projects, such as streetscapes, drainage improvements, or park construction.

This past year, the City planted roughly 1,200 trees, thanks to some major capital projects and opportunities, including the creation of the new eight-acre Suttree Landing Park on the South Waterfront.

Other tree planting projects recently completed or in the works include Neyland Greenway (across from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine), the disc golf course at Victor Ashe Park, the Cumberland Avenue reconstruction project, and the Ray Mears Boulevard sidewalk extension.

The City also takes tree planting requests from the public and prioritizes tree plantings based on need in areas with less tree cover, among other factors. This year, the City has worked on planting street trees in the Lonsdale, Parkridge, Oakwood, Lincoln Park and Fourth and Gill neighborhoods.

In addition to planting new trees, the City’s Urban Forestry Division maintains an estimated 40,000 trees in parks and public spaces within the City. (This is not counting the natural growth tree populations, such as the forests at Ijams Nature Center or on Sharp’s Ridge.)

“The only way a tree can thrive in an urban setting is to maintain it regularly,” said Krouse. “That means pruning trees so that their limbs don’t interfere with traffic and so that the trees can grow healthy root systems so they don’t easily fall over during a storm.”

The fall and winter seasons are the most ideal time to prune trees, so City crews will be making proactive tree trimming efforts in the months to come.

“This winter, we will be wrapping up a long-term downtown tree improvement project and we’ve already started trimming in the Fourth and Gill and Old North Knoxville neighborhoods,” said Krouse. “We’ll keep on moving around the map as time and resources allow.”

Krouse added that when unsure about care for a tree on private property, residents should reach out to a professional arborist. A list of local arborists can be viewed at www.treesaregood.org/findanarborist.

Residents interested in trees in public spaces may enjoy the City’s online map of every maintained tree in Knoxville, which is equipped with the ability to send the tree an email, or a “tree-mail.” This tool has come in handy for reporting maintenance issues to the City.

“We’ve received all kinds of emails, whether it be a note of appreciation to a specific tree, or reporting that a tree may appear in distress,” said Krouse. “It’s a fun way for residents to be active in Knoxville’s tree population.”

The map can be found at www.knoxvilletn.gov/trees, which also includes a list of indigenous trees that thrive in the East Tennessee region, tips for planting and pruning trees, and many more tree-related tools.