In an effort to protect Upper Arlington’s tree canopy — as well as the city’s and residents’ investments in it — a local commission plans to roll out a new education initiative for maintaining street trees.
For many years, the Upper Arlington Forestry Division has provided a program through which the city and residents share costs to plant trees in public rights of way in front of local houses.
It’s a way to pool resources and add to the local landscape, but those efforts are rendered moot if the trees aren’t properly cared for.
Rather than jump directly to citing residents who maybe haven’t adequately watered the trees or whose landscaping practices are unwittingly hampering their development and causing safety hazards, the Upper Arlington Tree Commission has created a doorknob hanger its members plan to distribute to provide helpful maintenance tips.
“As we drive around where we live, we can see where there are some issues with trees and where there are gaps in the lines of trees,” said Anya Cara, an Upper Arlington Tree Commission member. “Trees are an asset to Upper Arlington because they help filter the air, and they provide shade and beauty to neighborhoods.
“We want to be partners with residents. We’ll just look for where there are trees with problems or where there are opportunities to plant trees.”
Cara said the door hangers will be left for residents only when tree commissioners see problems with street trees.
The two-sided cards will provide five do’s and don’ts for tree care, ranging from tips for watering and avoiding too much mulch around tree bases, to things like the importance of protecting trees’ surfaces and how to contact city officials to either assist a distressed tree or to have more trees planted in public rights of way.
Cara said Tree Commission Chairman Paul Newman likes to say the goals of the initiative are to “protect, preserve and grow” the city’s street tree stock.
Upper Arlington Parks and Forestry Superintendent Steve Cothrel said he supports the outreach initiative because it is an informal way to educate residents about tree care that should reduce enforcement actions that can pit them against the city.
“There’s no plan to visit every house,” Cothrel said. “This is strictly an informal thing the commissioners can use should they notice an issue.
“Most of the verbiage on the door hanger is directed to street trees, but they fundamentally apply to any tree,” he said. “Rather than initiate a formal enforcement, the idea is to start this informal process for addressing dying trees or trees that might need to be removed.”