Caring for Trees in Your Backyard - TribPapers

Caring for Trees in Your Backyard

A beautiful grand street tree in a historic neighborhood of Hendersonville. Photo courtesy of Hendersonville Tree Board.

Hendersonville – Western North Carolina is certainly known for its amazing trees, which are a great benefit to the environment by providing shade and, through photosynthesis, oxygen.Trees undoubtedly are an integral part of the economy. Fall foliage brings hundreds of tourists to the area to see the amazing colors on the leaves. Hundreds flock to see the red, orange and yellow tones. With this in mind the Hendersonville Tree Board has planned a program to help a homeowner care for the trees in their own backyard. Steve Pettis, a well known local expert will discuss how to plant a tree properly, how to prevent tree damage, the art of proper pruning, preventing common tree health problems, such as the woolly adelgid infestation. Left untreated, hemlock woolly adelgid can cause tree death in 4-10 years. Pettis is a long-time agricultural advisor in his role as Henderson County agent of the N.C. State Cooperative Extension.

This will take place on Monday, February 26th at Hendersonville Operations Center, 305 Williams St, from 5:00 to 6:30 PM. The program is sponsored by Hendersonville Tree Board in partnership with NCSCE and is open to the public at no charge. “I call it my ‘Tree Health Care’ class,” Pettis said. “In the class I help homeowners understand some of the common problems and threats to healthy trees and teach techniques to help improve tree health. Protecting the overall tree canopy of Henderson County is an important part of my work.” Attendees will also learn how to apply to get free trees on private properties through the NeighborWoods program, and hear details about the new Bradford Pear Bounty program, in which a new native tree will be given to replace a Bradford Pear tree cut down on your property.

On behalf of Hendersonville’s Tree Board, city staff submitted a grant proposal in 2023 to fund a tree canopy survey. The grant was received. The Tree Board’s request for the survey was in response to an up-tick in urban development in and around Hendersonville. “A tree canopy survey was recently completed,” according to Glenn Lange, a member of Hendersonville Tree Board who is working on updates for tree regulations. “This information is a great help to move us forward as we plan for balancing needs for housing, business, greenspace, and quality of life in Hendersonville. In anticipation of population growth, we are looking to protect and even enhance the tree canopy within the City’s jurisdiction.” With so much development taking place in the area it is necessary for regulations about how many and what size trees can be cut down and how many must be replaced by new planting. Tree ordinance revisions will be discussed and possibly voted on in a City Council meeting on March 7 at 5:45 PM.

“Maintaining a healthy tree canopy in Hendersonville is important for many reasons,” said Tree Board Chair Mac Brackett. “Attendees can learn how new trees, properly planted and maintained, can restore our canopy, and how to deal with the health issues of older, mature trees in our historic neighborhoods. This program is set up to help us all care for and sustain a healthy tree canopy in Hendersonville.”

Appreciating Our Ancient Trees

In order to protect significant trees within Hendersonville, the city has established the Heritage Tree designation. The tree must have reached its mature growth, have significant historic value to the community and be a rare species or provide a habitat for rare species of plants, animals or birds. It must be listed as a Champion Big Tree. Within the City of Hendersonville there are 14 trees so designated by City Council. Many are Red and White Oak trees, a Yellow Buckeye, an Eastern Hemlock, and a Norwegian Spruce A map of their location can be found at

A Noteworthy North Carolina Treasured Tree

In the 1980s University of Arkansas professor Dr. David Stahle was exploring the relationship between tree growth rings and climate. In the spring of 2018 he announced that he had identified one cypress to be dated 2,624 years old, making it the fifth oldest tree species in the world. This eastern bald cypress was found alongside Black River’s meandering black waters in southeastern North Carolina, in a preserve protected by the Nature Conservancy. It was/is in Three Sisters Swamp near Wilmington. NC. After examining the timber cores in the lab—measuring tree rings and taking radiocarbon readings—Stahle and his team today published a paper in IOP Science moving the bald cypress up the list of oldest living tree species to number five, behind the Sierra juniper of California and ahead of the Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine.