By George Boehme
Featured in Essentials Magazine, December 2018
It’s an annual ritual that not only enhances a valuable community asset but property values, as well — and really it’s something anyone can do on their own.
West University residents have until Dec. 14 to apply to receive a complimentary tree from the city’s Tree Trust. Homeowners who have adequate growth space can fill out an application at West U’s development services office, 3826 Amherst St., or print the application online at westutx.gov.
Trees from the Tree Trust may only be planted in the public realm — including the front yard setback and the side yard setback on a corner lot, where the tree would be a benefit to the general public. This is a change from previous policy, which only allowed for planting in rights-of-way.
Planting will not be considered for a location where a large tree would mature beneath the canopy of an existing healthy tree or beneath overhead utility lines. Visibility triangles at street and driveway interactions will also be taken into consideration.
Those applicants chosen will receive a tree in a 65-gallon container, about 8 feet tall with a trunk about 3 inches in caliper. It will be planted and staked by city contractors, who will also mulch and apply fertilizer to the trees. Homeowners will then take over responsibility for watering and maintenance.
The trees are chosen by Craig Koehl, West U’s urban forester, based on what is most adaptable to local soils, with limited insect and disease problems, and readily available. Consider this not only a list of what’s available, but a guide to what is best to plant in both West University and Bellaire from an expert who knows well the soils and potential problems.
LARGE SHADE TREES: American Elm, Cedar Elm, Lacebark Elm, Mexican Sycamore, Bald Cypress, Sweetgum, Nuttall Oak, Overcup Oak, Bur Oak, Shumard Oak, Monterey Oak, Swamp Chestnut Oak, White Oak, Laurel Oak, Live Oak, Loblolly Pine, Drummond Red Maple, Green Ash.
SMALL TREE SPECIES (suitable for under power lines and in small growspaces): East Palatka Holly, Chinese Pistache, Texas Redbud.
The West University Tree Trust was created to ensure the constant regeneration and diversity of the city’s urban forest. It is funded by homeowners and contractors who removed trees for construction of homes and other structures and features, without having enough space to install the minimum number of replacement plantings required by city ordinance. For more information, contact Koehl at 713-662-5313
A tree trust testimonial
Over the years, our gifts from the West U tree trust have beautified our property and motivated us in our efforts to create our own, individual little urban forest. Through the trust, we’ve “adopted” a Bald Cypress, two Bur Oaks, a Red Maple, and a Mexican White Oak. We’ve had them planted expertly and readied for our maintenance, and we’re fortunate to live in a community with an arborist — albeit part-time — who we can turn to for advice. All at no charge.
Trees are one of West U’s great attractions, and the West U Tree Trust is there to preserve and make that lure grow. — Elizabeth, George (and Baylee) Boehme, with West U Urban Forester Craig Koehl and their Mexican White Oak.