Sharpe's Point

Kenny Sharpe

Arbor Day is a national tree planting observance that is designed to bring attention to the importance of trees and the need to continue to renew the resource. It is observed at different times around the country, but in Louisiana, we observe it on the third Friday in January.

The reason we observe Arbor Day in January is because winter is an excellent time to plant trees. It is by far the best time to plant seedling, bare-rooted, and ball and burlap trees. If you can’t plant on the exact date, don’t fret — plant as soon as possible but before spring.

Time has a way of taking a toll on trees. If I look around my yard, I have lost more than half of my trees in the last few decades. Many of us need to fill in the holes left from hurricanes, tornados and even snow damage.

One of the considerations in a new planting is the tree’s potential growth. The storms we’ve encountered have heightened awareness of the danger of trees falling on homes and other structures. Almost all nursery stock will come with a tag that will tell you the mature width and height of the tree. If that isn’t available, consult our website at and look at Publication 1622, “Trees for Louisiana Landscapes.”

I see way too many trees that have a potential height of 80-100 feet planted very near a home. They look great initially, but they will eventually reach their full potential and will cause concern during the storms of the future. Measure off the distance needed for the tree’s mature height, and if you don’t have enough room, change to a species that will fit your space.

You should also consider the direction of the tree in relation to your house (or outside living areas) and the sun. For instance, you may need protection from the afternoon sun on the western exposure, and like anything involving trees, nothing is a quick fix. Trees are a long-term project and do not grow overnight. Some definitely grow faster than others, and those are also listed in our publication.

Something else you may want to consider is whether or not you want color. If so, consider a tree that will flower. There are trees that flower in early spring, such as Redbud, and others that flower in summer, such as Sweet Bay Magnolia. Some have better fall foliage than others, and there are also some interesting bark choices, such as Drake Elm and River Birch.

Do you want evergreen trees or deciduous? Evergreen trees, such as American Holly or Live Oak, will keep their leaves all winter long and will block the sun and warmth during the winter. Deciduous trees, such Shumard Oak or Green Ash, provide shade during the summer but let the sun in during the winter. Deciduous trees work best on south and west exposures.

Trees provide good memories when planted in honor of a new family arrival, a milestone or as a memorial.

There are several good tree choices, and the weather is cool and the ground soft, so there are no excuses.

For more information on these or related topics, contact Kenny at (225) 686-3020 or visit our website at

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