Volunteer Tree Planting
VOLUNTEER TREE PLANTING EVENTS
The Flood Control District can provide trees and help with planting plans for tree planting events at approved locations, typically near bayous, creeks and stormwater detention basins. Trees play an essential role in slowing stormwater run-off, filtering pollutants and reducing erosion. Trees also beautify communities and provide habitat for wildlife.
Sponsoring a tree event is different than volunteering.
The following set of procedures must be followed to ensure a smooth process:
- Sponsor must submit a written request to the Property Management Department of the Flood Control District. Request should include a project description as well as a map showing the proposed location. Email requests are acceptable.
- If Flood Control District does not own the property in fee simple, sponsor must also obtain permission from the underlying fee owner before any trees may be planted. The District has limited property ownership information available.
- If preliminary approval is obtained from the District, a planting plan must be approved by a District forester. The planting plan should include:
- Number, species and size of trees
- Specific location and spacing of trees (hand drawn planting plans are acceptable)
- Two year maintenance plan which includes watering, mulching, fertilizing and pruning plans
- Date of tree planting event
- If necessary, the District forester will arrange an on-site meeting to discuss the proposed planting.
- Sponsor and all participants must sign a release of liability waiver which is provided by the District.
For more information regarding volunteer events, please call the District office and ask for the Community Services Section.
Proper Tree Planting Procedure
- When choosing a tree it is important to keep in mind the ultimate size and crown spread of the species to prevent future conflicts with utilities, structures, and other site conditions.
- The ideal time to plant trees is during the dormant season in late Fall and prior to bud break in the Spring. The cooler weather provides the least stressful environment for the tree and allows their root systems to begin establishing prior to the hot summer months.
- Prior to planting, identify the trunk flare of the tree and remove excess soil from it if needed. This area is often covered in container grown trees. The trunk flare is the portion of the trunk where the root system begins to flare out and expand into the soil.
- The planting hole should be dug two to three times the diameter of the root ball and to a depth that leaves the trunk flare at either ground level or slightly above once the tree is planted. A large diameter planting hole allows the root system of the newly planted tree to more easily expand into the surrounding soil.
- Remove the container from the tree and inspect the root ball for circling roots and remove them.
- Place the tree in the planting hole making sure that the trunk flare is at, or slightly above the surrounding grade.
- Backfill the hole gently with the soil removed from the planting hole. Do not cover the top of the root ball with soil as you backfill. The tree can be watered while backfilling to remove air pockets in the soil.
- A 2-3” layer of mulch can be applied over the planting hole and beyond to help retain soil moisture, cool soil temperatures, and reduce competition from grasses. Mulch should be kept away from the base of the tree as this can lead to trunk decay.
- Follow-up maintenance is critical for the establishment of a healthy tree. Keep the tree watered during the summer months. Overwatering a tree can be just as detrimental as under watering. It is important to allow the soil to dry in between watering. After an establishment period of 1-2 years in the Houston area, most trees will only require supplemental watering during drought conditions.