Arbor Tips

2018 Monthly Tips

January - Highlights of 2017

February - Georgia Arbor Day

March - World Water Day

April - National Arbor Day

May - Georgia Fun Facts

June - Indoor Gardens
July - Georgia Landscape Material
August - Native Trees of Georgia
September - Connecting Communities with Nature


2017 Monthly Tips

January - Pruning Trees                         

February - Georgia Arbor Day          

March - Mulching                                         

April - Celebrate Nature                       

May - Drought Tolerant Plants      

June - Trees and Crime                               

July - Hurricane Season

August - Defense Mechanisms

September - A Labor of Love

October - Tips and Tricks

November - Saving Energy and Money

December - Tree Shopping


2019 Monthly Tips

January - Watering Newly Planted Trees

Did you know more than 50 percent of most living trees' weight is water? That H2O helps trees thrive. Just like you, water keeps trees hydrated and functioning. Trees need water to grow new leaves and roots, photosynthesize, transport nutrients, and even fight off pests and diseases. All these awesome perks may have you ready to run outside and fire up the hose. But, keep reading!

You want to water newly planted trees deeply, which you can do easily with one of these tree watering methods:

  • The Bucket Method: You can use a 5 gallon bucket to water your tree. Make a half-inch hole near the bottom outer edge. Let the water drain out slowly near the trunk, but not on it. Fill it two times once a week every week, even when it’s raining.
  • The Watering Bag Method: This is the same as the Bucket Method only using a gardening product. A bag can be purchased for approximately $30 or one can be made using a 20-30 gallon garbage bag. The bag would need to be filled one time per week. Be sure to install the watering bag zipped around a support post rather than the tree itself. 
  • The Garden Hose Method: You can run your hose on a slow trickle for 1.5 to 2 hours once a week into the tree basin, even when it’s raining.

For more information please contact our Urban Forester at 229.259.3530.

February - Georgia Arbor Day

National Arbor Day has been celebrated since 1872 with the purpose of reflecting on the importance of trees across our country. Although the National holiday is celebrated in April, Georgia Arbor Day is held on the 3rd Friday of February because it is too warm to plant trees in our corner of the country after March.  Every tree planted helps clean the air and water, beautify neighborhoods, provide home for wildlife, conserve energy and prevent soil erosion, among many other benefits. Help make a difference in our community and plant a tree this year for Arbor Day!

FREE tree seedlings will be available February 13th – 14th at the Engineering Department, while supplies last! For more details on seedlings and events please see the above attachment.



– Franklin D. Roosevelt

March - The Value of Trees to Our Community

The role of trees in providing beauty and shade in our community and neighborhoods is widely appreciated. But, what is less generally understood are the many vital and often unseen things trees do to make our city more pleasant and healthful place in which to live.

The following are some statistics and facts on just how important trees are in our community setting:

  • The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.
  • If you plant a tree today on the west side of your home, in 5 years your energy bills should be 3% less. In 15 years the savings will be nearly 12%.
  • Landscaping, especially with trees, can increase property values as much as 20 percent.
  • One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people.
  • The planting of trees means improved water quality, resulting in less stormwater runoff and erosion.



2018 Monthly Tips


January - Highlights of 2017 

As we prepare for the upcoming year, the Arbor Division would like to share with you some highlights of 2017, which include:

We love to hear from you, so please feel free to share any ideas for 2018!  Also, to learn more about the Arbor Division, visit our website or contact the Urban Forestry Supervisor at 229-259-3530.  

February - Georgia Arbor Day

Georgia Arbor Day is Friday, February 16th and we have a week full activities leading up to this special day.  Thanks to wonderful partners, we will have lots of FREE opportunities including: 20 copies of the Lorax book, 50+ arbor coloring books, 2 educational classes, and 900 tree seedlings.  As a Tree City USA Community for 32 consecutive years, we encourage you participate and learn more about the importance of trees in our great state and nation. 

Be sure to check to check out our 2018 Arbor Day Celebration webpage to learn more about each of the activities that will be going on between February 12-16th.      

March - World Water Day

In 1993, the United Nations declared March 22 World Water Day.  The purpose of this special day is to bring awareness to water related topics including: water supply, shortages, and sanitation problems.  Each year there is a theme and for 2018 it is “Nature for Water.”  Nature is just one way to help overcome the many water challenges that can effect communities from floods, drought, and pollution, which can all be made worse through the degradation of vegetation and soil.  One way to help is to plant trees to tame stormwater.  By planting trees and other vegetation, this can help increase the absorption rate of rainfall, reduce soil erosion and so much more.   For additional information, please visit Trees Tame Stormwater and World Water Day

April - National Arbor Day


“Each generation takes the earth as trustees.” J. Sterling Morton

The last Friday in April is National Arbor Day and was officially celebrated in Nebraska in 1872.  The idea came about as the pioneer Julious Sterling Morton from Detroit moved into the Nebraska Territory.  He and his family loved nature and quickly began planting trees, shrubs and flowers.  As a journalist and editor of the first newspaper in Nebraska, Morton was able to share his agricultural knowledge, environmental stewardship, and the interrelatedness of life and encouraged everyone to plant trees.  His message and insight was well received by others who missed the trees and their many benefits such as windbreaks, fuel, building materials, and shade from the hot sun.  On the first Arbor Day, more than one million trees were planted in Nebraska.  Shortly after that, other states passed legislation to observe Arbor Day and today it is celebrated in all fifty states annually.  Be sure to check out these helpful links to learn about each of the state trees, Arbor Day, and more:

May - Georgia Fun Facts

As the school year nears the end and summer adventure plans are underway, here are a few interesting facts about Georgia that include trees and the great outdoors!

  • State Tree: The official state tree of Georgia is the live oak (Quercus virginiana).  This evergreen forms a broad and massive tree that grows 40 to 50 feet tall with a short trunk that is often 3 to 4 feet in diameter.  It is one of the more majestic trees in the south and known for Spanish moss hanging from its branches.   
  • Largest Swamp: The Okefenokee in south Georgia is the largest “blackwater” swamp in North America.
  • Natural Forest: Marshall Forest on the outskirts of Rome, Georgia is the only natural forest located within city limits of any city in the United States.
  • Big Campus: Berry College near Rome, Georgia has the largest contiguous campus in the world with an area of about 27,000 acres.
  • Natural WondersGeorgia has seven official natural wonders, which are Amicalola Falls, Okefenokee Swamp, Providence Canyon, Radium Springs, Stone Mountain, Tallulah Gorge and Warm Springs.

To learn more, please visit Georgia Facts, and/or our Urban Forestry Supervisor at 229-259-3530.

June - Indoor Gardens

The benefits of trees and landscapes are endless and can be tied to improved social interactions, increased economic value, reduced stress, and improved working and learning environments. This is exciting news, but not everyone has a large yard or access to community parks to enjoy these benefits daily. A small scale option to consider is growing herbs indoors on a window ledge such as rosemary, basil, lemon balm and mint. These fragrant herbs thrive with lots of light and can even be used for cooking. If you are feeling more advanced check out Window Farming: A Do-It-Yourself Veggie Venture.

To learn more, visit our Arbor Tips or contact our Urban Forestry Supervisor at 229-259-3530

July - Georgia Landscape Material

Thanks to Better Homes & Gardens, we no longer have to struggle to find what plants work best in Georgia. By working with various professionals, they have helped to identify ideal plant material for our areas and suggestions include:

  • Arkansas Bluestar (Zones 4-10)

  • Butterfly Weed (Zones 3-9)
  • Perennial Plumbago (Zones 5-9)
  • Geranium Rozanne (Zones 5-8)
  • Swamp Hibiscus (Zones 6-11)
  • Bottlebrush Buckeye (Zones 4-8)
  • Purple Beautyberry (Zones 5-8)
  • Paperbush (Zones 7-10)
  • Alice Oakleaf Hydrangea (Zones 5-9)
  • Fragrant Tea Olive (Zones 7-10)
  • American Hornbeam (Zones 3-9)
  • American Yellowwood (Zones 4-8)
  • Lavender Twist Redbud (Zones 4-9)
  • Little Gem (Zones 7-9)
  • Yoshino Japanese Cedar (Zones 5-9)
  • Athena Elm (Zones 4-9)

To learn more, visit Winning Landscape Plants for Georgia . Also be sure to check out our Arbor Tips or contact our Urban Forestry Supervisor at 229-259-3530.

August - Native Trees of Georgia

Did you know that there are approximately 250 tree species native to Georgia? To help bring awareness, the Georgia Forestry Commission prepared an educational manual on 92 species due to their commercial importance, state distribution, and/or unusual characteristic.

To learn more, visit Native Trees of Georgia or contact our Urban Forestry Supervisor at 229-259-3530.

September - Connecting Communities with Nature

City parks and open space are a key component to a successful community. Based on ConservationTools.Org, parks “attract tourists, serve as community signature pieces, offer a marketing tool for cities to attract businesses and conventions and host festivals, concerts and athletic events.” As a result, greenspaces are extremely important, but connecting them throughout a community can make an even bigger impact. For example, based on the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc (ABI) website, the ABI “is the most comprehensive transportation and economic development effort ever undertaken in the City of Atlanta and among the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment programs currently underway in the United States.” Once completed, the Atlanta Beltline will include a 22 mile expansion of the Atlanta Streetcar, 33 miles of multi-use trails, and 2,000 acres of parks and support “affordable workforce housing, economic development, job creation, public health, streetscapes, public art, environmental clean-up, and historic preservation – all with an eye towards sustainability.” This multi-phased project is scheduled to be completed in 2030 and includes both public and private partners. To learn more, check out the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc video. Also be sure to check out our Arbor Tips or contact our Urban Forestry Supervisor at 229-259-3530.

October - The Tree that Own's Itself

“The Tree That Owns Itself” which is located in Athens, GA, is probably the most unusual property holder in the world. The tree pays no taxes, is protected by the community and rests secure in its own enclosed garden-type lot. In addition, this unique tree has be featured in Ripley's "Believe it or Not" and has received regular attention from newspapers and magazines from around the world. The original tree became diseased and was blown down in a windstorm on October 9, 1942. The Junior Ladies Garden Club grew a sapling from one of the tree's acorns and planted it on the same spot on October 9, 1946.

The land on which the tree stands was originally owned by Col. William H. Jackson, a professor at the University of Georgia. Legend has it that in the early 1800s, Professor Jackson, out of love for the great oak, deeded to the tree ownership of itself and the land within eight feet of it on all sides.  The marker at the foot of the tree reads as follows: "For and in consideration of the great love I bear this tree and the great desire I have for its protection, for all time, I convey entire possession of itself and all land within eight feet of the tree on all sides."  An original deed has not been located, but the Athens community has recognized the tree's title to the surrounding land and has taken measures to protect the tree. 

Its property rights have never been questioned. So, the next time you’re strolling downtown Athens, stop by the corner of Finley St. and Dearing St. (one block off Broad St.) to visit “The Tree That Owns Itself.”

December - Winter is Coming

Winter is one of the best times to plant a tree! Many excellent varieties are available at your local nursery, with some of the best trees available in the winter. Your new tree will use the winter dormant season to establish new roots. When spring arrives, your tree will be on its way to providing shade for generations to come. The best time to plant in Georgia is between November and March.

While it may seem obvious that planting a tree is a good thing, here are some reasons which may not have not occurred to you. Well-placed trees can save you money on your utility bills. In the summer, trees shade your roof and windows and also cool the air around your house as they breathe. In the winter, evergreens can block cold north winds. By using less electricity you help cut down on emissions from power plants that contribute to the “greenhouse effect.” Trees of course clean the air by creating oxygen and they also keep our cities cooler by reducing the “heat island” effect, caused by concrete and asphalt storing and reflecting heat.


2017 Monthly Tips


January - Pruning Trees

While not all trees go completely dormant, such as Live Oaks and Magnolias, the dormant phase is the best time to prune.  This time is usually in late winter when it is coldest, just before spring.  One reason is that while the tree is dormant, it will lose its leaves giving you the best opportunity to look over your tree to find limbs that should be removed, such as those that are dead or have defects.  For evergreens, which are trees that do not shed their leaves, this is the time of year when the canopy is the thinnest.  Here are a couple quick tips to keep in mind when pruning trees:

  • Always make proper cuts (e.g. cut limbs or branches back to the branch collar or lateral limbs)
  • Do not top
  • Never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf baring canopy

To learn more, visit the Arbor Division or contact the City Urban Forestry Supervisor at 229-259-3530.

February - Georgia Arbor Day

Georgia Arbor Day is held in February on the third Friday.  This year in Valdosta, we will be celebrating for an entire week - February 13-17.  To learn more, please check out our exciting Arbor Week Celebration events.   

March - Mulching

Spring will be here officially on Monday, March 20th and many are starting to clean up their yards and place mulch.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind when placing mulch around your trees and shrubs:

  • Leave at least 6 – 12 inches clear of mulch at the base of the tree or shrub
  • Never pile mulch up around the base of the tree or shrub because this can hold moisture around the root collar causing unnecessary pest and decay
  • Mulch no more than 4 inches in height
  • When possible, extend the mulch all the way to the edge of the canopy or “drip line”

To learn more, please visit the Arbor Day Foundation “The Importance of Mulching” or contact the City Urban Forestry Supervisor at (229) 259-3530.

April - Celebrate Nature

April is a great month to reflect on trees and nature by celebrating Earth Day and National Arbor Day.  To highlight this exciting month, here are just a few of the many reasons we plant, preserve and protect our trees:

  • Attractive
  • Provide habitat for birds, animals, etc.
  • Improve air quality
  • Reduce air and noise pollution
  • Minimize stormwater and erosion
  • Save energy costs for cooling and heating
  • Increase property values as much as 20%
  • Reduce crime
  • Stimulate economic growth
  • Enhance human health and wellness

To learn more, please visit the Green Cities: Good Health or contact the City Urban Forestry Supervisor at (229) 259-3530.

May - Drought Tolerant Plant Material

With several areas of the state of Georgia experiencing water restrictions due to drought conditions, it is always a good time to think about native and drought tolerant landscape designs.  Below are a few popular trees, shrubs and ground covers that will not only grow in our area, but do well in droughts.

Trees Shrubs Ground Cover
American Holly Chase Tree Carolina Jasmine
Bald Cypress Juniper Confederate Jasmine
Chinese Pistachio Tea Olive Creeping Juniper
Crepe Myrtle Viburnum Mondo Grass

To learn more about each of these and other options, check out the NC Extension and just enter the name into the Search Box.  Also, to find out more about the water restrictions in Georgia, please visit the Georgia Department of Natural Resources – Water Conservation.

June - Trees and Crime

Did you know that trees and other natural landscape may help reduce crime?  Some studies have shown that less crime occurs to both property and people in neighborhoods that are greener than those that are barren, with nearly identical housing units.  When people are outside together, they start to get to know each other and form relationships, which means they recognize strangers, so the more eyes on the streets the fewer opportunities for crime to occur.   

As with all things, planning and maintenance are important factors to consider.  For example:

  • Grass: Typically requires mowing twice a month during the warmer months and once during the cooler months.
  • Shrubs: Some are fast growing and need to be trimmed often, while others reach a certain height and rarely need shaping.
  • Trees: Every tree species grows at different rates, so please contact our City Urban Forestry Supervisor at (229) 259-3530 for more information.

Together we can help make our community safe and attractive.

To learn more, here are some additional resources:

July – Hurricane Season

Hurricane season officially began June 1 and will end on November 30th so it is very important to pay attention to our trees.  Prior to all the recent rain we have received, our community was in an extended dry time.  These significant changes in the weather can result in various tree failures so take a few minutes to walk around and look for any changes in your trees.  For example, with extra water weight this can make limbs hand lower than normal so look for cracks or broken limbs.  Also, look for bleeding wounds or decay on your trees.  If you see a hole in the tree with large amounts of water or sap oozing from it, that may be a sign of decay.   

To learn more, check out “Managing Hazards and Risk” or contact our City Urban Forestry Supervisor at (229) 259-3530.  

August - Defense Mechanisms

Trees and plants play an important role in our everyday lives.  They clean the air, provide oxygen, improve water quality, reduce erosion, and so much more.  Since they are stationary, some have developed defense mechanisms to protect themselves.  Here are a few ways:

  1. Thorns are sharp features that can be found on branches, twigs, and trunks of the tree and measure up to 4 inches long. Examples include hawthorn, kapok, and citrus trees
  2. Crypsis is where a plant will close its leaves when touched or shaken to make it appear dead and re-open a few minutes later.  Example includes the Mimosa Pudica
  3. Chemical Signaling is when plants release volatile organic compounds to warn nearby plants, ward off the enemy, or attract the enemy’s predator.  Examples include willow, poplars, and sugar maple trees

To learn more, visit Botanical Barbarity: 9 Plant Defense Mechanisms or contact our City Urban Forestry Supervisor at (229) 259-3530.

September - Trees: A Labor of Love

On September 5, 1882, the first Labor Day holiday was celebrated in New York City.  Today, Labor Day is celebrate on the first Monday in September and based on the Department of Labor it “is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.”  To many, this day provides a three day weekend to relax with family and friends.  This year, to help celebrate this special holiday, the Arbor Division would like to highlight the Memorial Tree Program which honors a number of individuals and organizations by planting trees throughout our great community.  Memorial trees can be found all throughout our community, such as at City Hall, Valdosta Police Department, and various schools and parks.  In several cases, parks were built and dedicated to individuals, such as Taylor-Cowart Memorial Park and Shannon Hill Memorial Park.  Other examples include:

  • Judge Thomas Guy Connell who through his leadership helped bring I-75 through our community.
  • Bette Bechtel who was the first woman elected to serve on City Council in 1972 and successfully achieved the adoption of the first Tree Ordinance in 1978.
  • Marie Greene Youmans Crockett who taught dance for more than 50 years and actively involved in bringing the arts to Valdosta, supporter of women’s rights, helped build the Woman’s Building, and founded the Empty Stocking Fund.   
  • Felton Davis Sr. who was the resident architect for the Valdosta High School on Williams Street and designed a number of homes and building in his 60 years in Valdosta.

As public servants, we work hard each day to serve our community, while also preparing and building for our future.  No action is too small and together we can do amazing things.  To learn more about the 93 memorial trees, please visit our Memorial Tree Program website where you can find an interactive map and read a brief summary about each memorial tree recipient.

Pictured above: Bette Bechtel and Charlie Marcus at the 2017 Arbor Day Ceremony, Tree dedication to Molly Huckaby Hardy, and Memorial Tree for Christopher "Seth" Cassotta.

October - Tips and Tricks

With cooler weather coming soon, trees will start to show their fall colors.   North Georgia is known for its beautiful display of oranges, reds, and yellows, but South Georgia has showy trees as well.  As the days get shorter, this lets the trees know that fall is coming so it starts to retrieve important nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus from the leaves before they fall off, which results in the changing of color.  Here are a few Tips and Tricks to help you enjoy the fall season:

  • Evergreen trees such as a Nellie Stevens Holly or Little Gem Magnolia tend to keep most of their leaves, so if you would like to see more of those fall colors in South Georgia, consider planting a Bald Cypress, Ginkgo, and/or a variety of maples.   
  • Save time and energy by placing your leaves in brown bags so that they don’t blow back across your yard or in the street.
  • Prune trees in the winter during the dormant months to help remove dead and/or excess branches, which will also help reduce cleanup next fall.

To learn more, visit Top Fall Trees or When to Prune or contact our City Urban Forestry Supervisor at (229) 259-3530.

November - Saving Energy and Money

Trees can be beautiful, provide habitat for wildlife, but also help you save energy AND money throughout the year.  Research has shown that by planting the right tree in the right place, the average homeowner can save up to 20 percent on energy bills.  For example, when trees are planted on the eastern and western sides of your home or business, this can provide Summer Shade and result in less energy needed to cool and a lower power bill.  Those very same trees can provide Winter Warmth by allowing the sunshine through the branches and cut down on heating costs. 

To learn more, please visit the Arbor Day Foundation - Energy Saving Trees and the Georgia Forestry Commission – Making Your Home More Energy Efficient By Planting Trees or contact the City Urban Forestry Supervisor at (229) 259-3530.

December - Tree Shopping

It’s December and many will be on the lookout for the perfect tree!  They come in so many shapes, sizes and types, so keep in mind what’s the best option for you, how to care for it, as well as what to do with it afterward.  Artificial trees are pretty easy, but if you choose a live tree or a tree that you can replant later, here are a few helpful tips:

Buying Your Tree

  • Buy fresh from a reputable nursery or cut your own to help extend the life of the tree.
  • If you purchase a pre-cut tree, needles should not fall off so check for freshness by pulling your hand towards you along the branch.
  • Keep in mind that only a small percentage of trees that are kept indoors all winter can survive outdoors if you take that route. 

Caring for Your Tree

  • Saw a couple of inches off the bottom of the trunk before setting it in water.
  • Watering is critical so never let the water level go below the tree’s base. 
  • Be sure to keep your tree away from heat.

Reusing Your Tree

  • Use your tree as the base of a brush pile.
  • Sink old trees in your pond to make a cozy area for aquatic life.
  • Chip the tree into mulch or bring it to the free Keep Lowndes Valdosta Beautiful (KLVB) Bring One for the Chipper event.

To learn more, please visit The Old Farmer’s Almanac.  Also, if you are interested in giving the “original green gift” this year, check out these options at the Arbor Day Foundation.




Dept. Head

Patrick S. Collins, P.E.


Valdosta City Hall Annex
300 N. Lee Street
Valdosta, GA 31601 

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