BY ELLIE HENSLEY
Winter means sparse foliage and even sparser crowds in Midtown - and that means it’s the perfect time to replace any dying or fallen street trees.
Later this week, Midtown Alliance’s tree team will kick off a major transplanting and replacement project, replacing as many as 45 trees across the district. It’s the most contractors have ever replaced in a single year, but a small number compared to the 2,700 trees Midtown Alliance maintains in the right of way.
New Trees for a New Year
Here’s a few places our contractors will be working to transplant and replace trees:
- 10th Street
- 14th Street
- Peachtree Walk
- Williams Street
Tree species being planted this year include various types of Oaks, Pond Cypress, Chalkbark Maples and American Elms, and these are planted according to Midtown’s Streetscape Plan, which dictates what types of trees should be planted along which corridor. The plan makes it easier to care for the trees in our urban environment, where they face plenty of challenges, such as tree wells that constrain growth, drivers who hit them, vehicle exhaust and even damage from dog urine.
Know Your Midtown Street Trees
Despite the best care possible from Midtown Green and contractors, some trees don’t survive, and these are replaced annually. In other cases, healthy trees simply need to find new homes to make way for other things – for example, a few crepe myrtles on a median on 10th Street are relocating for the installation of a new art piece on loan from the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
“In 2021, the scope of the project will be large enough that lane closures will be needed for a large spade machine to scoop out the trees that will be transplanted,” said Cladie Washburn, landscape architect and Director of Capital Projects at Midtown Alliance. “They will be then be moved to a flatbed trailer, transported to their new home, and planted.”
Caring for the City in the Forest
Midtown’s tree lined streets are a key reason why the district is such a walkable place, and maintaining this lush canopy is a year-round job.
Midtown Alliance’s Green Team works behind the scenes to care for the trees daily.
”The street tree care program is an effort to maintain our street trees at the highest level possible,” said Kyle Guess, program manager at Midtown Green. “The Midtown Green crew has been trained on proper pruning techniques and fertilization applications to supplement the work done by our contractors throughout the year. Midtown Green also plays an integral part with the annual tree replacement, watering the new plantings through the growing season to ensure the trees establish healthy root systems.”
Throughout the year, our contract arborist, Chris Hughes of Brookwood Tree Consulting, identifies trees that need extra nutrients, pruning, or to be removed. The team’s dedication to trees goes as far as to map each one in a geographic information system (GIS), so we know the specific location and type of every public right of way tree in Midtown.
“This level of detailed tree care is rare within urban areas where street trees often struggle to survive more than a few years" said Hughes, who completes monthly assessments of the trees. "The work pays dividends, though, and we see excellent growth despite the tough condition. We are committed to canopy coverage in the district.”
The tree program costs $150,000 annually and is paid for by the Midtown Improvement District.
“We’ve been doing this for many years, making a city within a forest come true in Midtown,” Washburn said.
Read more about Midtown Alliance’s tree management program here.