Students, parents and children were hard at work this weekend doing their part to make Guelph a little bit greener.
On Saturday, Trees for Guelph held its third and last community planting event of the year just at the end of the trail on Hilltop Road where individuals helped plant approximately 400 plants of 40 different native species.
Martin Litchfield, vice-president of Trees for Guelph, said the objective of the events is to bring Guelph closer to its goal of a 40 per cent tree canopy covering. Currently, the city’s tree canopy is 28 per cent.
“We have volunteer groups come in students, we have young families with young children, and just people from the community helping out in the tree planting,” said Litchfield.
Trees for Guelph plants trees during the spring and the fall season every year. This year, because of the pandemic, community planting events were limited.
“Traditionally with non-COVID years, we were planting anywhere between 28 to 30 sites per year,” said Litchfield.
He said the seeds are collected and grown within the local area so they are more likely to survive.
“We don't have trees from Ohio or California come into here that won't survive,” said Litchfield.
“We have a variety of trees, native trees, shrubs and wildflowers so we try and have a diversity of species, but also diversity of size. So we have some wildflower pollinators, some shorter shrubs and some taller, permanent trees.”
The retired professional forester who worked in forest management for 49 years said it feels very encouraging to see people come out early morning to plant trees.
“We have a couple of students here that have planted with us at schools and some that have come out because of their quest for community service. They're getting their community service hours and helping the environment,” said Litchfield.
“We’re working with the city on municipal properties and we're working with both school boards on school properties. This year, we planted with seven different schools with students ranging from four years old to 17 years old.”
Litchfield said while the city provides water and mulch, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation helped fund the purchase of trees and shrubs.
“What we do is we provide specific instructions on how to plant the trees, how to set up the mulch and how to water the trees for effective survival,” said Litchfield.
Litchfield said the group comes back every couple of years to add trees to previously planted sites while also checking on the trees planted in the past.
Each tree has a plastic collar placed on it to protect the young stems from moles and mice. The trees and shrubs were also planted six to eight feet apart, their way of social distancing to grow healthy.
“We try and make sure we tend to the trees and make sure the trees we planted are still surviving. We get an 85 per cent survival rate. Part of that is because of the care and attention we're doing,” said Litchfield.