It is hard to believe September already is here and we quickly are heading into the fall season. While it seems it is about time to put summer yard work to rest until next spring, mid-September to mid-October is an ideal time to plant trees in our area.
The rains of spring and early summer enabled the city of Hays to change the well-field drought status from water warning to water watch, allowing watering any time except from noon to 7 p.m. daily. This makes it reasonable to consider planting trees in Hays.
Growing trees in northwest Kansas can be a challenge due to the summer heat and recurring drought conditions, therefore it is important to choose trees that have been shown to tolerate just such conditions. K-State Research and Extension has compiled a list of drought-tolerant trees. That list includes: large deciduous trees (over 45 feet) such as American elm, bur oak, Chinkapin oak, hackberry, honeylocust, and Kentucky coffeetree. Medium deciduous trees (30 to 45 foot) such as Golden raintree, lacebark elm, osage orange (thornless and fruitless), and sawtooth oak; and small deciduous trees (under 30 foot) such as flowering crabapple (disease resistant), redbud, and thornless cockspur hawthorn. More information can be found by talking to the local greenhouses, the Ellis County K-State Extension office, and the city of Hays Parks Department or at www.hfrr.ksu.edu/doc1466.ashx.
Two more excellent resources available on the Internet or from the Ellis County K-State office include one on deciduous shrubs, www.ksre.ksu.edu/bookstore/pubs/MF3116.pdf and a second one on evergreen shrubs, www.ksre.ksu.edu/bookstore/pubs/MF3117.pdf.
For a newly planted tree to have a better chance of growing and thriving, several steps are necessary including proper planting, appropriate mulching, and appropriate watering.
There are several sources from which to find appropriate methods of planting trees including the local library and the Ellis County K-State Extension office. Some of the things to consider is to dig a hole two to three times the diameter of the tree ball or the container which the tree has been grown. A newly planted tree's best friend is mulch made of chipped wood, bark or similar material. Mulch insulates the soil, helping to provide a buffer from heat and cold temperatures, retains water helping to keep the roots moist, keeps weeds out to help prevent root competition, prevents soil compaction, and reduces lawnmower damage. Free mulch is available at the city of Hays Parks Department.
Also remember, drought-tolerant does not mean plant it and forget it. All plants require moisture to become established. The soil a few inches below the surface should be damp but not waterlogged.
If you decide to plant a tree, the city of Hays has a tree rebate program. A project of the Hays Beautification Committee is to tag trees that qualify for the city of Hays rebate program at the various nurseries and stores that offer trees in Hays. The trees that are tagged are most appropriate for planting in Hays.
Hays residents who plant these tagged trees are eligible for the reimbursement of up to half the cost of a newly planted tree (including tax) with the maximum reimbursement of $50. There is a limit of two rebates for newly planted trees per property per calendar year.
To be eligible for the rebate, the trees must be purchased from an established dealer in Ellis County. Qualifying trees planted in either the front or backyard are eligible for the rebate.
With appropriate planting and care, a tree will bring pleasure to your yard and your neighborhood for many years.
For questions or comments regarding anything discussed in this article, contact the parks department at (785) 628-7375.
Janis Lee is vice chairwoman of
the Hays Beautification Committee.