Learn tree planting best practices on August 24

Root Nashville is a campaign to plant 500,000 trees, and we can't achieve this goal alone.

We work with amazing partners – nonprofits, government departments, and businesses alike. One of our key partners is the Nashville Tree Foundation. We recently sat down with board president Noni Nielsen and program coordinator Margo Owen to learn more about an upcoming event to become a Green Shirt Volunteer. Check out our conversation and find the link to sign up below.

What does it mean to be a Green Shirt Volunteer?

Margo: Green Shirt Volunteers are leaders during our planting days and they provide instruction, encouragement, and oversight. They also share feedback to the volunteers as they plant trees in public places and at schools.

Noni: That’s why I think the Green Shirt Volunteers are so important. The survivability of the trees we plant is largely dependent on how they are planted. These volunteers are people who have been trained and are knowledgeable about the proper way to plant a tree, and they can be out with all of the teams. It expands our capacity, which is invaluable, especially with the larger events. But even in the smaller plantings, the Green Shirt Volunteers provide the personal touch and go around to check out each of the teams to make sure everything is going smoothly.

Why do we want more Green Shirt Volunteers?

Noni: We need more because we want to plant more trees! And we are, and we have plans to plant even more, so we will need more volunteers too.

Green tee volunteers holding shirts

What are some really important planting tips that Green Shirt Volunteers will learn more about in this upcoming training?

Noni: Everybody has always heard about how important the hole is. But an important part of that conversation, and a mistake that we commonly see, is digging your hole too deep. When you dig the hole too deep, you are smothering the trees. The roots need to breathe. There’s a saying about how “every $10 tree needs a $100 hole.” It is so important to make sure that the hole for the tree is right, to protect the long-term health of the tree.

Margo: Trees come balled-and-burlapped with additional soil on top to help ease the transportation of the trees. So when you go to plant the tree, people often think that that’s where the top of the root flare is, but you have to dig down a little bit and find where the roots are attached to the trunk. That’s actually what should be at the top of the hole.

Tell us a little more about this upcoming training. What are the event details?

Margo: The training will be held at The River Center, at the Bridge Building (2 Victory Ave). It’s Saturday, August 24 from 9-11 am, and we will have coffee and donuts and other breakfast treats! It’s open to everyone over 18 years old who wants to learn more about how to plant trees.

Noni: A perk of the training is the view at The River Center too. That’s almost worth a visit in itself, in addition to learning about the right tree planting techniques. You can sign up to attend by visiting the Nashville Tree Foundation website.

What else should people know about this event?

Noni: You’re not going to get dirty during this training. We won’t be planting anything in the heat; the event is inside, so it isn’t weather dependent. There is free parking at the Bridge Building, too.

Margo: Green Shirt Volunteers supervise the plantings, so they aren’t the ones who will be out there later in the year actually digging the holes, but we do recommend that the volunteers are relatively able-bodied, just to make it easier to get around outside at the planting sites. We do have plenty of older folks who are excellent in educating others in tree planting techniques.

At the end of this training, attendees will also see a list of upcoming events and they can sign up to participate if they’d like.

Noni: You’ll get the chance to ask questions about trees and meet like-minded people who have similar interests in protecting our canopy. Once you get out there at a planting event, it’s also just plain fun. They are great volunteer outings for people of all ages. We’ve had 6 years olds help their parents plant trees and it’s a great way to be involved in the community. All tools and materials are always provided.

Margo: We like to call our Green Shirt Volunteers our green superheroes, on the front lines of expanding our urban canopy. We have a busy fall planting season coming up, including planting at over 20 schools. It’s a way to learn how to lead others, and if you want to enhance our urban canopy, this is a great way to get involved.

Sign up for the August 24 training and learn more about the Nashville Tree Foundation.

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