For volunteers who have helped the Parks Foundation plant trees, this will be welcomed news!
The Allegheny County Parks Foundation recently teamed up with Allegheny County to plant trees at the North Park Golf Course. But the difference in this tree planting was the use of bare root trees instead of the balled and burlapped trees we've used in the past. This is the first time the Parks Foundation has completed a bare root tree planting and its success will promise many more.
Bare root trees are delivered without the heavy ball of dirt, burlap and wire cages surrounding the roots. These trees can weigh hundreds of pounds and can be difficult for volunteers to handle. In the case of bare root trees, dirt has been removed from the root system making them lighter to handle and requiring a smaller hole to dig when they are transplanted. They also require fewer volunteers to plant and take much less time. And in the case of the golf course, the bare root planting was less disruptive to the site and to the golfers on the green while the planting took place.
Bare root trees are also less expensive to purchase, harvest and transport and require less heavy equipment in all phases. To harvest a tree that will be balled, a large machine called a tree spade digs up the root, severing the lengthy root system close to the trunk. The root ball mitigates this damage to the roots because the dirt retains water to sustain them. A bare root tree is gently scooped up and shaken to clean the dirt off of the roots which helps to retain critical root structures extending out further from the trunk than a balled and burlapped tree.
Bare root trees retain their lengthy root systems but without the dirt surrounding them they are at greater risk of drying out, a threat which would destroy the tree. To prevent this, the roots of the trees planted in North Park were treated with a hydrogel material, which is the consistency of gravy, that clings to the roots and retains moisture for up to 10 days. The trees planted at the golf course have a great advantage for survival because they were planted within 10 days of their harvesting and were planted in November when the heat of the summer had passed.
Species of trees in this planting included Eastern Black Walnut, White Oak, Chinkapin Oak, Basswood, Elm, American Hornbeam, among others. A generous donor made this planting possible, which included 59 trees.
The Parks Foundation has a Tree Fund that actively seeks donations for plantings such as these. It supports tree plantings throughout our nine county parks in partnership with Allegheny County. The Tree Fund is a great way to recognize someone special, honor someone’s birthday or remember a loved one.