Every year, the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance’s Mid City Neighborhood Challenge offers $1,000 to neighborhood groups for resident-led projects focused on improving their neighborhood. The Garden District Civic Association (GDCA) was awarded $1,000 this year to undertake a native tree planting effort in front yards and medians throughout the neighborhood. We matched the grant 1:1.
The mission of the Garden District Civic Association is to enhance the quality of life for all Garden District residents by building community, preserving the historical and aesthetic character of the neighborhood, promoting safety and awareness, and addressing the needs of the community. We figured planting trees accomplishes a little bit of everything and will also pay dividends for years to come.
Trees are an important part of any neighborhood as they help with air quality and stormwater management. They improve water quality and reduce urban heat island effect, as well as improve mental and physical health and increase property value. Unfortunately, in the past several years, the Garden District lost many canopy trees due to ice, wind, and time.
As the Chinese proverb states, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Our goal for the tree planting was to fill gaps in the existing tree canopy where we have lost trees over the years. In partnership with Baton Rouge Green, and the help of 20+ volunteers, we distributed and planted a total of 39 trees in front yards and medians across the Garden District.
The eight planted tree species included:
Native Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus) – Small deciduous tree, sometimes multi-stem, flowers white in spring/summer. https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=chvi3
Possumhaw Holly (Ilex decidua) – Small deciduous tree, red berries in winter, some fall color, leaves do not have stickers. https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=ILDE
Snowbell (Styrax americanus) – Small, delicate shrubby form tree, deciduous, white flowers in spring/summer. https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/styrax-americanus/
American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) – A.K.A. Musclewood, sturdy, deciduous, shows fall color, tolerant of pruning. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/ST120
Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana var. australis) – Evergreen, slender form, can be single-stem or multi-stem, medium blooms in summer, red fruiting bodies. https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=MAVI2
Nuttall Oak (Quercus nuttallii) – Deciduous, rounded symmetrical form, some fall color, produces acorns, typically 60-80’ mature. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/ST554
Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) – Semi-evergreen, sprawling form requiring ample space, has surface roots, highly hurricane resistant, requires pruning in the long-term. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/ST564
Pond Cypress (Taxodium distichum var. nutans) – Almost visually identical to typical “Baldcypress”, deciduous, pyramidal conifer form, shows bronze fall color, long-lived, potential for cypress knees, can reach 50-70′ maturity. https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/taxodium-distichum-var-imbricarium/
Everyone at the Garden District Civic Association would like to thank the dozens of volunteers who showed up to plant trees in some very hard and dry ground, the good folks at Baton Rouge Green for helping coordinate the planting, Steven Gremillion of Palustris Design Studio for providing expert advice on appropriate tree species, Jeff Corbin from Councilwoman Coleman’s District 10 office for wielding a shovel alongside all the other volunteers, and the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance for providing the grant that allowed us to bring a little more beauty to the neighborhood.