New trees of­fer new down­town ap­peal

The Covington News - - Front Page - JOSH BRIGGS

When the sum­mer heat ar­rives in a cou­ple of months, vis­i­tors to down­town Cov­ing­ton will have a lit­tle bit of re­lief from the hot sun. The city is putting new trees in the ground through­out the square and ad­ja­cent streets and plans to have all 23 planted this month bar­ing any weather de­lays.

The project, started last year, in­cludes new root wells, soil, mulch and gran­ite pavers as edg­ing and Hightower wil­low oak trees. Cov­ing­ton city forester Kevin Sor­row said the trees re­placed ones dug up last year and will give the city a more uni­formed look. Ac­cord­ing to Sor­row, the old trees were caus­ing prob­lems to side­walks, street­lights and even build­ings and some were dy­ing from dis­ease.

“There were a few dif­fer­ent species that were planted over the years. A lot of them were sugar maples, and some of them were hav­ing prob­lems from dis­ease,” Sor­row said. “We also had a lot of prob­lems with the limbs and

the leaves and the root sys­tems. The branches and leaves on some of the trees were en­croach­ing on the street lamps and ac­tu­ally wrap­ping around them.”

Ac­cord­ing to Sor­row, the project cost the city ap­prox­i­mately $87,000. The ma­jor­ity of that went into each root well — “about $2,000 each,” he said and the trees them­selves were about $300 apiece.

“I am re­ally pleased with the trees we got. There are ac­tu­ally bet­ter than I ex­pected, so I am re­ally pleased,” Sor­row said.

Hightower wil­low oaks can reach heights up to 50 feet with a canopy roughly half the in­di­vid­ual tree’s height. The ones planted Thurs­day are in the 4-5-inch in di­am­e­ter range at the base and are less than 20 feet in height right now. With the de­sign of the root wells, which in­clude plas­tic root bar­ri­ers, the trees are not ex­pected to grow that high. In­stead they should reach 30-35 feet in height ac­cord­ing to Land­scapes Con­cepts owner’s Rod­ney How­ell.

The trees also will have drip ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems in case of ex­tended pe­ri­ods of dry weather. How­ell said the trees are lo­cally grown and that will help aid the ac­cli­ma­tion. He added now is the ideal time to plant new trees.

“Late fall and early spring are the best time to plant these trees,” How­ell said. “We try and get trees from the area be­cause they’re al­ready used to the cli­mate. These here are good, hearty trees that have a strong root sys­tem and should do very well. They’re a good street tree.”

How­ell said the trees will of­fer shade as early as next month when the fo­liage blooms, and as they grow, the canopy will rise and pass­ing un­der them will not be an is­sue for walk­ers.

Sor­row said the decision to re­place the trees came down to main­te­nance and ad­dress­ing some with fail­ing health. The city chose Hightower wil­low oaks be­cause of their rel­a­tive low main­te­nance and hearti­ness. But there still will be up­keep in­volved as Sor­row said, no tree is main­te­nance free.

“They should be easy to prune and they should be a pretty good size but that’s what we want,” he said. “It’s a good tree for the square. Any tree you put in there with a canopy will have some main­te­nance is­sue. The ben­e­fits of hav­ing the trees out­weigh the main­te­nance costs.”

Josh Briggs

Em­ploy­ees from Land­scape Con­cepts lower a tree in Cov­ing­ton Thurs­day.

Josh Briggs/ The Cov­ing­ton News

Land­scape Con­cept em­ploy­ees help place new trees in down­town Cov­ing­ton.

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