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Arbor Day offers best time to plant trees

Staff photo by Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith Georgia Forestry Ranger 1 Jody Price (left), Ranger 1 and Chief Ranger Mike Sapp of the Forrestry Commission office on Access Raod unload an assortment of seedlings which will be used as part of Arbor Day festivities. They had an order of 4,110 seedlings for this week only which included red cedar, Virginia pine, persimmon, cheery bark,dogwood, red maple, crepe myrtle, wild plum,  loblolly and others.

Staff photo by Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith Georgia Forestry Ranger 1 Jody Price (left), Ranger 1 and Chief Ranger Mike Sapp of the Forrestry Commission office on Access Raod unload an assortment of seedlings which will be used as part of Arbor Day festivities. They had an order of 4,110 seedlings for this week only which included red cedar, Virginia pine, persimmon, cheery bark,dogwood, red maple, crepe myrtle, wild plum, loblolly and others.

CONYERS -- Today is Arbor Day in Georgia and residents are encouraged to plant trees now to give them the best chance to establish themselves in time for warmer weather.

While National Arbor Day is held on the last Friday in April, several states, including Georgia, observe the holiday at a time best suited for tree planting. The Georgia Forestry Commission office for Rockdale and Newton counties offers tree seedlings sales each year for residents. Orders are placed through July 1 with delivery in February.

According to GFC Chief Ranger Mike Sapp, a local Arbor Day program is planned today at 11 a.m. at Turner Lake Complex and another Arbor Day program will be held at Oxford College on Saturday 10 a.m.

Russ Pohl, chief of reforestation for the GFC, said "trees are environmental work horses." Along with their natural beauty, trees clean the air and water, provide shade for cooling homes and neighborhoods, creates a habitat for wildlife.

For those planning to plant trees this month, the National Arbor Foundation offers some basic tips.

First, determine the tree's function. According to the NAF, thinking about where the shadow of a tree will be to provide shade in the summer is important before the first shovelful of dirt is dug. Trees can also provide a boundary of property lines, fall colors and wind break.

Location is also important. Short flowering trees are ideal planted under power lines. These trees will not clash with the lines and will add color and beauty to your yard. Some examples of short flowering trees are redbuds, dogwoods and crabapples.

Large deciduous trees are best used to shade a home and yard. These trees should be planted on the southeast, southwest and west side of your home to provide cooling shade in the summer and won't obstruct the low winter sun. Examples of large shade trees are maples, oaks, spruce and many pine species.

To slow strong winter winds, many people use evergreen trees, but large deciduous trees work well, too. Windbreaks should be planted on the north side of the home, a fair distance from the nearest structure. Spruce, firs and pine trees make fine windbreaks.

Before planting, it is also worth researching which trees grow best in Georgia. This information can be found in the Arbor Day Foundation's Hardiness Zone look-up, at www.arborday.org or by contacting a local nursery or arborist.

The GFC offers tree sales by logging on to GaTrees.org. Web visitors can peruse tree selections, find out about species' growing preferences, locate step-by-step tree planting instructions and learn much more about the benefits of trees.

The local GFC office also offers assistance for property owners on tree management.

The Georgia Forestry Commission District 4 office, which includes coverage for DeKalb, Rockdale and Newton counties, is at 2707 Access Road and is managed by Chief Ranger Sapp. The phone number is 770-784-2480.

News Editor Barbara Knowles contributed to this story.