Mechanical Tree Plantings

Nature Academy

At Great Parks, we really love our trees. Lucky for us, with almost 17,000 acres of preserved green space, we have a lot to love. But our trees are in trouble. Invasive plants, hostile bugs and destructive fungus are all threatening the health and diversity of our local canopy.

That’s why Great Parks became a lead partner in Taking Root, a regional effort a regional effort to plant two million trees by 2020. For our part, Great Parks promised to plant 60,000 trees in the next three years. That’s a lot of trees!

Over the past six months, we’ve had tons of help from some wonderful volunteers. Since September, they’ve planted more than 3,600 trees at six parks. Some areas, though, are just too big for individual plantings. That’s when we switch to a mechanical planting method.

This videos shows a mechanical tree planting in action on April 2, 2014. Great Parks worked with local contractor EcoLogic to reforest acres of old farmland at Miami Whitewater Forest. The tractor slowly pulls an implement, which opens up the soil, and the workers drop the tree into the trench (about one tree every 10 feet). Then, the implement pulls the soil back to cover the roots.

Using this equipment, we can plant up to 400 trees per acre! The mix of trees planted are a mix of native trees that are of the highest wildlife value, such as oaks, hickories, maples, sycamores, Ohio buckeye (of course!), sweet gum, redbud and dogwood.

Three areas have been planted this spring using this method:
•    Miami Whitewater Forest: two areas totaling 9.7 acres and 3,868 trees
•    Francis RecreAcres: one area of 14.1 acres and 5,634 trees

More trees will be planted this way in the fall, when the conditions for survival are once again at their peak. Until then, the new trees will begin their growth into the next generation of forest, providing acres of enjoyment for people and wildlife alike.

Bret Henninger, Natural Resource Manager