10,000 Trees Program
Sponsored by the City of Columbia &
The City of Columbia and Columbia Green, through the 10,000 Trees Program, aim to bring beauty and life to our communities by increasing shade, improving air and water quality, providing homes for wildlife and reducing our overall carbon footprint.
The City will work to plant 5,000 trees over the next 10 years as we work to reach the goal of planting 10,000 trees. However, the biggest impact to the program will be through citizens, schools, businesses, churches, neighborhood associations and all those who participate by planting their own trees. Tree Initiative Grants are available through Columbia Green to help fund these tree plantings.
Through the 10,000 Trees Program, education about the benefits and the beautification of our communities will continue to be realized, but certainly not without the help of each of you. We encourage all residents of the Midlands to participate in the program. Every tree planted in the region will be a benefit to all. The City of Columbia and Columbia Green look forward to the promotion of this program and working with our citizens to continue to make the Midlands a Capital Place to Live!
We're Tracking Our Progress
This program has just begun and we're well on the way with about 100 trees registered to date. We'll keep track with our "Tree-ometer". Submit the trees you've planted to make sure that we have an accurate count.
The benefits of trees to our community and our environment are innumerable. Below is a list of just a few of the benefits of planting trees in our communities.
- Trees save energy and money by creating shade around homes and buildings. This can greatly decrease electrical bills in our 'famously hot' city. Large-spread canopy trees such as White Oaks, Chestnut Oaks, Hickories and Poplars are the most beneficial for shade production.
- Trees can help to impede stormwater runoff and provide filtration and irrigation for vegetation, decreasing the need for high capacity storm sewers. This can be especially beneficial to the Midlands, where we are prone to have heavy rainstorms daily during the summer.
- Trees help filter pollutants from our water. By slowing stormwater runoff and promoting filtration of the ground water, tree canopies and root systems ensure the water that runs into nearby rivers and streams is cleaner.
- Trees help to purify our air by filtering carbon dioxide and other pollutants and they produce oxygen. This in turn provides a healthier city for all of our residents to live in and can help to reduce health costs associated with asthma, emphysema, and other respiratory diseases.
- Tree plantings help to reduce the overall atmospheric temperature which allows for more efficient removal of greenhouse gases as well as lowering everyday energy costs.
- Trees protect the soil from erosion. Tree roots and leaf litter improve soils and enhance filtration which adds nutrients when their leaves fall each autumn. Leaves make a great starter for your home compost pile. And your compost can, in turn, be used as an organic fertilizer for trees and other plants saving money and preventing potential pollution from chemical fertilizers.
- Trees provide habitats and food for birds and other wildlife. We have a wide variety of bird species in our area that are being displaced by urban development. Providing a home for these animals increases the natural beauty and biodiversity of the Midlands.
- Trees help provide aesthetically pleasing privacy in our yards. Consider planting evergreens in place of a privacy fence.
- Landscaping with trees can help to increase the property values of homes and to attract tourism and business to our downtown areas.
- The shade provided by trees over city streets and sidewalks can help prevent degradation of these surfaces. This will reduce wear and tear on vehicles caused by potholes and uneven surfaces, help maintain better sidewalks for our communities and save tax payers money on repairs.
- Trees provide beauty in our communities and have been shown to improve relations among neighbors, reduce stress levels and help to provide a sense of place and belonging.
Before planting a tree, it's important to consider the best tree for your space, the benefits of different types of trees, and the maintenance and care required. Some of the most beneficial trees for the Midlands include Chinese and Resistant American Elms, Hickories, Poplars, and a number of different species of Oaks including White Oaks, Red Oaks, Chestnut Oaks and Willow Oaks.
The following are a list of guidelines to follow when planting a tree.
- When choosing a tree to plant, be sure to select a type of tree that is urban tolerant, disease resistant and has superior form. Be sure to consider the benefits you hope to receive from your tree before deciding on the type of tree you want to plant. These benefits range from increased shade on the sunny side of your home, to preventing runoff on an incline in your yard, to adding color to your garden. You might also want to consider any pollen allergies that members of your household have or seeding that might be a nuisance.
- In order for a tree to grow to its maximum potential, it must be planted in the proper location. The mature height, crown spread and rooting area are key factors to take into consideration. If you have questions about selecting the right tree for the right place, please contact the City of Columbia Forestry and Beautification Division at 803-545-3860. The Forestry and Beautification Division has 4 Certified Arborists and a Municipal Specialist on staff to offer advice.
- Be sure to plant at the right time of year. December through March is the best season to plant most tree species in the Midlands. The trees are able to root better when temperatures are cooler and are able to establish a strong enough root system before the stress of the summer heat.
- When planting, it is especially important to consider underground utilities before digging. Palmetto Utility Protection Service Inc., or PUPS, is the one-stop resource for trained customer service and statewide GIS mapping system information. PUPS will locate and mark underground utilities near your planting site and can be reached by dialing 811 or (888) 721-7877 from 7:30 to 5:30 Monday through Friday. Be sure to call at least 72 hours in advance of beginning your tree planting. More information can also be found at www.sc1pups.org.
- Prior to planting trees in the right-of-way, permission from local government and/or SCDOT must be obtained.
- Once a tree is planted, it takes vigilant care to ensure that the tree takes root and is able to grow to maturity. Mulching and watering are two key steps to a successful planting, especially in the first few months after a tree has been planted.
- Certain species of trees need to be pruned annually in order to give strength to the branches and for the tree to reach its full growth potential. But be careful! Overpruning will harm the tree and may lead to disease and death.
City of Columbia Forestry & Beautification Division
South Carolina Forestry Commission: Tree Care and Community Forestry
The Arbor Day Foundation: 9 Tree Care Tips & Techniques
American Forests: 10 Reasons We Plant Trees
US Department of Agriculture National Resources Conservation Service: Tree Planting
International Society of Arboriculture: Trees Are Good