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Monday, January 24, 2022

Diversifying the City's Urban Forest One Tree at a Time

Diversifying the City's Urban Forest One Tree at a Time

When winter arrives, we tend to put yard work, gardening and landscaping on the backburner. It's time for a well-deserved break after spending countless hours in the fall keeping up with Colorado’s favorite chore; leaf cleanup. Although winter is a dormant time for outdoor work, it's also an ideal time to plan for the spring and summer seasons. That’s where the City's ReLeaf Westy Tree Sale can help. 

For the seventh year, the City’s Releaf Westy Tree Sale will help residents plant new trees at an affordable price, while also diversifying Westminster’s urban forest.  

“What we are trying to do with this program is get different sorts of trees planted,” explained City Forester Bryan McCoy. “We want to have a more resilient urban forest that can withstand some of the pressures we receive, not just from pests, but also from climate change and severe weather events.” 

As part of the program, the City purchases 100 trees from the Colorado Tree Coalition and then sells them to residents at cost. This year, the fee is $75 plus tax. In all, ten different types of trees will be offered, each unique in style, size and color. This new addition to your yard will provide you with more than just a reason to brag to neighbors. As the City Forester explained, having a variety of trees in the city can also help protect against the dreaded Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive species that is already spreading in Westminster.

“A lot of times, at least in the past, there have been pretty generic species selections [in neighborhoods] and they don’t have a lot of tree diversity. What we see now as a result is that a pest will come through and it won’t just kill a few trees, but it will wipe out a lot more trees than it would have if a more diverse tree pallete had been selected in the neighborhood,” said McCoy. 

Replacing trees or bushes that are currently in your yard with one of the trees included in the program could also save you money on your water bill. “When making the selections we try to choose trees that are drought tolerant, not drought proof, but trees that are more suited for our dry environment.” said McCoy. “They always say the best time to plant a tree was yesterday, right?” 

If you’re wondering what tree might be best for your yard, here’s the City Forester’s top picks: 

  • Shumard Oak (large shade tree) 

  • Chinkapin Oak (large shade tree) 

  • Bigtooth Maple (small ornamental tree) 

If you are still not convinced that you want to take part in this program, consider this: two of the tree names include the words “Coffee” and “Hot Wings”. Hopefully, that motivates you (or makes you hungry) enough to take advantage of this program and help protect the City’s tree canopy for years to come! 

The ReLeaf Westy Tree Sale begins Tuesday, February 1. Trees will be available for pickup in mid-April, and details will be shared with program participants. To see photos of the trees available and place your order beginning February 1, click here.

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