Plant Some Roots in Marietta

Ideal tree holes are triple the root ball diameter.
Trees this size are best if professionally planted.

Written by Cheryl Corson
1) (of a plant) not having roots; 2) having no settled home or social or family ties; unsettled.
-Oxford Dictionary
Putting Down Roots:
“to feel that you belong in a place” Cambridge English Dictionary
Planting trees is a good way to put down roots. It says you’re in it for the long haul. Personally, at 68 years old, planting trees creates a legacy that will surpass me in years, not to mention beauty. There are many other intangible reasons to plant trees; here are some tangible ones.
Marietta made its earliest fortune by profiting from the deforestation of early industrial Pennsylvania. Seasonally, the Susquehanna was choked with logs floating downstream to Marietta sawmills and lumber yards.
Since the last log raft in 1911, the river (riparian) edge is becoming reforested to various degrees with newly planted native trees. Perhaps you have volunteered to plant or will in the future. Watch the Marietta Shade Tree Commission’s Facebook page for notices of future planting events. See:
To this newcomer’s eyes, the very deep yards of most Marietta homes are a distinguishing landscape feature presenting ample opportunity to contribute to the Borough’s scant in-town tree canopy. Alleys featuring leafy mature trees are a visual delight plus cool on hot summer days. On the west end of town, we favor leafy Biddle Street shade over West Market Street’s hot sun for viewing the Memorial Day parade. Human comfort matters.
Relationships between insects and the songbirds who thrive on them ensure the continuity of these beneficial species. So, too, the fish and insects they need for survival. Trees harbor these life forms and more. Insects have co-evolved with native trees over centuries and tend to stick to their known host plants. It’s fun learning about native trees like the Pennsylvania state tree, the Eastern Hemlock, our state flower, the Mountain Laurel, our state fish theBrook trout, and the Firefly, the state insect. A healthy tree canopy supports all these species.
Flood Mitigation
Historic Marietta floods are noted all over town with various high water mark signs. Recent large scale infrastructure improvements ensure against the worst. However, numerous small-scale interventions to absorb stormwater will mitigate the hard work the new flapper valves are designed to do. Trees are the number one green infrastructure intervention. Research shows that in one growing season, just one mature canopy tree may absorb approximately 10,000 gallons of water – enough to fill a modest sized swimming pool. Intercepting that much water before it reaches the river can increase the longevity of the flapper valves by extending the time before their use is required.
At the individual garden level, my Elk Avenue basement and garage flooded in most rain events when I moved in. Today, with effective stormwater management and extensive plantings, the buildings remain dry. Water collects and soaks back into the aquifer without leaving my quarter acre property. Virtually none of it needs to enter the storm drains adjacent to my low-lying land. Last month I planted six native trees (Black Tupelo/ Nyssa sylvatica, Pin oak, American Dogwood, Redbud, Crabapple, and Sweetbay Magnolia/Magnolia Virginiana).
Plant Soon and Plant Often
Spring and fall are the best times to plant trees. Fall is slightly better than spring, though with attentive care, spring is just fine and even preferable to certain species like Nyssa sylvatica (Black Tupelo) with its deep taproot.
For laypeople, the best online resource is International Society of Arboriculture’s site ( Look there for concise informative, downloadable resources on selecting, planting, and caring for trees. The legendary Penn State Extension and its local county Master Gardener groups are another robust and nationally-regarded resource.
If you seek further advice on what tree to plant and where, contact the Marietta Shade Tree Commission (chaired by Councilmember Judith Kennedy) and a volunteer, possibly me, will arrange to stop by at no cost.
Cheryl Corson moved to Marietta in 2022 after practicing landscape architecture for 20 years in the Mid-Atlantic. She is a member of the Marietta Shade Tree Commission.