July 27, 2008

Top 10 Trees - Know Them or Suffer

The late Dr. Shigo once professed to me "If you want to be an expert, find the 10 most common trees that grow in your region and get to know them. Really, really, get to know them." Being a smart-aleck I asked him if this was some kind of contest or something. Having no sense of humor for my shenanigans, Dr. Shigo explained that I should make a list of the most common trees on my customer's properties and get to work at discovering what makes these trees tick.

So here is my top 10 for the Atlanta region:
  1. Tulip poplar

  2. Sweetgum

  3. Water oak

  4. Willow oak

  5. White oak

  6. Southern red oak

  7. Post oak

  8. Red maple

  9. Flowering dogwood

  10. Loblolly pine

What trees would you add to the list? What trees would you subtract?

July 18, 2008

Live Oak - a forgotten Atlanta landscape tree


Though it is the colossus that shades the streets of Savannah and is the state tree of Georgia, the Live oak Quercus virginiana continues to be overlooked as a potential landscape or specimen tree in Atlanta. Live oaks embody many of the sentimental qualities that are often associated with a southern oak: expansive, rich with character, and hauntingly lyrical with tales to tell of children and families meeting beneath the shadow if its weathered limbs.

Its popular detraction is also its greatest asset. Slow growing, but conservative.

Yet given the right conditions of bright sunlight, moisture, and well-drained soil, this tree is moderately, even fast-growing, in youth. Over time, this tree can outperform and outlive some of the more cosmopolitan oaks such as Willow oak and the newest urban dweller Nuttall oak.

It is a recommended southern landscape tree by Michael Dirr.

July 14, 2008

And the winner is... (Guess the Tree's Age contest)


Congratulations to Nonot, who's estimate came the closest in May's contest. The Scarlet oak, located just a few miles north of Atlanta, is 42 years old this year.

Here is the story of the tree, as told by the woman standing next to the oak:

When Fulton County installed the sewer line my children told me to come down and look at the creek where they cut down all the trees. When I walked down there I saw this tree that had been pushed over but the bark wasn't skinned off of it so I dug it up and brought it home and planted it and the other one over there.

My neighbors made fun of me and wanted to know why I planted a switch in my front yard. When I planted it, I could reach around it with my thumb and finger like this: [overlapped at first knuckles]


So we estimated the tree was about 3 years old when she planted it. That was 39 years ago!

tim the shrubber came close, with his guess of 39 years old, which is the age when it was planted. Randy gets special mention for several stabs, but never really making an exact guess...and 'anonymous' and 'Steve Pettis' were the closest in accuracy.

Thanks for playing!

July 7, 2008

Some Tree Species are Exempt in Atlanta Tree Ordinance

Here is a neat little Atlanta Tree Ordinance hack of which you may not be aware.

Most people know, to remove any healthy tree 6 inches or greater in diameter requires cash recompense be paid to the city (or tree replacement), along with a city-approved tree removal permit. Fewer people know that the minimum size for pines is 12 inches in diameter. But what most residents don't know is that there are several tree species that are considered so heinous, so undesirable, so horrid...that they do not require paid recompense, replacement or posting.

And they are:

• Mimosa Albizia julibrissin
• Tree of heaven Ailanthus altissima
• White mulberry Morus alba
• Paper mulberry Broussonetia papyrifera
• Chinaberry Melia azederach
• Princess tree Paulownia tomentosa
• Carolina cherry laurel Prunus caroliniana
• Bradford Pear Pyrus calleryana
• Leyland cypress Cupressocyparis leylandii -x

In addition, if any of these species are over 12 inches in diameter, they are still exempt as long as the subject property meets the required tree coverage for its respective zoning class. If there is not enough canopy coverage, the permit applicant must replace enough tree coverage to satisfy the zoning requirements.