Tree seedlings given away as part of upcoming Arbor Day celebration

Sheridan Hill
Special to Black Mountain News
The Urban Forestry Commission will hand out tree seedlings for the town's Spring Arbor Day celebration, which will begin in Town Square at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 13, before moving to Lake Tomahawk at noon.

Free, locally-grown, native tree seedlings will be given away to the first ten people attending the town’s spring Arbor Day celebration from 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. on Saturday, April 13, at Town Square in Black Mountain.

At noon, the group will move to Lake Tomahawk for a ceremonial tree-planting and demonstration of proper tree-planting.

Exciting additions to this year’s event include the following: an adorable, local Cub Scout who will hand out free trees, local arborist Andrew Owens to answer questions about trees, and a representative of Swannanoa Valley Friends of Trees, a citizen forester group now in the formation process.

The tree seedlings given away will be in three-gallon containers and of a variety that attracts pollinators and is suitable for lawns and yards. At Lake Tomahawk, members of the Urban Forestry Commission will plant the Silky Dogwood, a first choice for wetland area restoration. As many Black Mountain old-timers remember, the golf course as well as the area between the golf course and what now is the lake was a natural wetland area before the construction of the lake and the golf course. All seedlings planted and distributed on our spring Arbor Day were grown and provided by Asheville Greenworks, a nonprofit environmental organization.

Mulch around tree trunk can kill

The group decries a practice seen increasingly around town: piling up dirt or mulch around the trunk of a shrub or tree.

“The rule is: use clean mulch in moderation, and don’t pile it against the bark,” says local arborist Scott Abla. “Mulch holds moisture, so any mulch piled up against the bark near the base of the tree will create favorable conditions for decay and girdling roots, which invites fungi, bacteria and insects to invade, often leading to a slow decline and eventually to death.”

Trees prevent flooding

Given the increase in rain events and flash flooding locally, tree-planting comes to the foreground for homeowners. Our changing climate conditions, according to researchers at North Carolina State University, mean that Western North Carolina may see “extended wet and dry periods that may result in more flooding or drought.”

“Trees are the first line of defense against flooding,” said Sheridan Hill, chair of Black Mountain’s Urban Forestry Commission, a group of five volunteers. “The tree canopy breaks the impact of rain on soil and slows down the velocity, which creates the perfect conditions for tree roots to absorb more rainwater and not send it downhill.”

Why celebrate Arbor Day?

Celebrating Arbor Day is a reminder to support efforts to protect our trees, and is a requirement for earning Tree City status from the National Arbor Day Foundation. National Arbor Day is the last Friday in April, but each city and town chooses its own celebration dates.

“We make an immense mistake when we think of trees as solely an aesthetic member of the community,” says conservationist Dr. Richard Leakey. “They cut pollution, cool the air, prevent erosion, muffle sound, and produce oxygen. Then—after all that—they look good.”

The Urban Forestry Commission is one of the town’s citizen advisory boards, and citizens are invited to all meetings, which are held on the first Tuesday of each month at 5:30 at the new Public Works Parks and Recreation building located at 304 Black Mountain Ave. (the former Foam and Fabric store). The agenda for each upcoming meeting is available on the town’s website: for more info, see or call 419-9300.

The Value of Trees

One large tree can provide a day’s supply of oxygen for up to four people. (N.C. State University)

In one year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the amount of carbon dioxide produced by a car driven 26,000 miles, and also release oxygen in exchange.  (U.S. EPA)

Carefully positioned trees can reduce a household’s heating and cooling energy consumption by up to 25 percent and can save an average household between $100 and $250 in energy costs annually. (U.S. Forest Service)

Every dollar spent on planting and caring for a community tree yields benefits that are two to five times that investment: cleaner air, lower energy costs, improved water quality and storm water control and increased property values. ( U.S. Forest Service)