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Volunteers plant Arbor Day tree at Creative Enterprises
Arbor Day
Volunteers and clients at Creative Enterprises Forsyth plant a tree for Georgia Arbor Day on Friday, Feb. 18. - photo by Kelly Whitmire

Creative Enterprises Forsyth County has grown a lot over the last few years, and officials are hoping a new addition also continues to grow.

To celebrate Georgia Arbor Day on Friday, Feb. 18, officials with the city of Cumming, Keep Forsyth County Beautiful, UGA Extension Services and the Georgia Forestry Commission were on hand to help plant a new tree on the grounds of Creative Enterprises Forsyth, the local campus of a day program for adults with special needs, at 410 Pilgrim Road.

“We ended up choosing a cherry blossom tree,” said Lisa Bennett, Forsyth campus manager.  “It’s not native, but we had to get a tree that would grow easily and didn’t require a lot of work.”

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Friday’s event was the third community Arbor Day event in the city, and Bennett said the tree will be looked after and watered by clients in the program.

Creative Enterprises, which also has locations in Dawson and Gwinnett counties, opened in Forsyth in 2016 with nine clients, and Bennett said in just six years, the center now severs nearly 100 clients.

“We have [clients] ranging from very high abilities to very low abilities, but they all have something special that they can give, and we really work on, if they were to be living independently somewhere without their parents, what do they need to know?”

Bennett said the program seeks to give clients job and life skills, such as going out in the community and shopping.

At Friday’s event, Alex Ballard, with the Georgia Forestry Commission, gave histories of both national Arbor Day, which is at the end of April and Georgia Arbor Day, which is on the third Friday of February each year.

“In Georgia, the climate’s a little bit different,” he said. “We cannot wait until [April] to plant.”

Along with remarks, the event featured snacks, activities for kids, free saplings for attendees to take home and a tree-planting demonstration.

“I know all of you are thinking, ‘My goodness, everyone knows how to dig a hole,”’ said volunteer Bill Roper, who led the demonstration. “Well, the reason we dig that hole and plant that tree is we want something that is going to be alive, that’s going to make it for hopefully the next year and many years to come. There’s a lot of experts in the horticulture field that have tried all sorts of things, and now, they have pretty well nailed down the way to do it.”

Roper said the following tips and steps are important for planting trees:

  • Dig a hole at least three times as large as the tree’s root ball;
  • Make sure the bottom of the hole is hard so the tree won’t settle as much;
  • The top of the root ball should not be below the surface of the ground;
  • Narrow down the walls of the hole to allow roots to get oxygen and water
  • If the roots are balled, always want to take off wires and burlap
  • Take a look at roots, particularly if the tree was grown in a pot, which can lead to the roots growing in a circle and needing to be loosened or cut;
  • Backfill the hole either with soil from the hole or a soil amendment
  • Create a saucer-shaped mound around the base of the tree to capture rainwater;
  • Put some type of mulch to cool and moisten the roots;
  • And water the tree at least a couple of times a week for the first few months to encourage growth.

Roper said some trees, particularly taller ones, may need to be anchored with a stake and wire but that should only be done for a few weeks to a few months.